November 14, 2010

Cutler: Parties becoming irrelevant

By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Eliot Cutler

Staff file photo

But Cutler said this allows a Clean Election candidate such as Mitchell to obtain public financing and still benefit from the money spent by outside groups. He said it's fiction that campaigns and outside groups are not coordinating their efforts.

Colby College political scientist L. Sandy Maisel disagreed with Cutler's views on the relevance of political parties.

"Parties have been threatened as organizations through their history. One of the things political scientists know is that they are incredibly adept at finding new roles," said Maisel, who is a Democratic activist and a former congressional candidate.

Parties still give cues to voters, he said. Only about 10 percent of voters neither belong to a party nor lean toward one over the others, he said.

University of Maine political scientist Mark Brewer said Cutler's strong showing as an independent may indicate weakness in the parties, but other dynamics also characterized the election. A divided Democratic Party in the primary and the Republicans' nomination of the conservative LePage benefited Cutler, he said.

Cutler campaigned well, performed well in debates and refrained from negative advertising, Brewer said. His close finish in the election and his name recognition would help him if he runs for office again, he said.

"What I would not say is he's one and done," Brewer said. 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:


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