November 3, 2010

Voters cite many reasons at the ballot box

Hope, fear, anger or desire for change are just some of the motivations to vote for, or against, a candidate.

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

The mood among Maine voters ran from resignation to outrage as they went to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the race for governor and other elections.

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A pair of voters in Biddeford walk away from voting booths at the J. Richard Martin Community Center in Biddeford on Tuesday, Despite its being an off-year election, many areas reported a heavy turnout of voters.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

What did voters say as the left the polls?

Read more comments from Maine voters



Informal interviews at polling places showed some voters sticking to party lines, others venturing into new political territory and still others voting for the candidates they liked best, regardless of party.

Depending on their politics and points of view, voters cast ballots in favor of experience, out of a desire for change, and sometimes just to keep the other candidate from winning.

That was Gretchen Fleming's strategy when she voted for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler over Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell.

"It was a hard decision," said Fleming, 39, a teacher who lives in Norway.

"I didn't really love any of them. But I really do not want Paul LePage to win."

Fleming said she normally votes for Democrats or independents, but she was concerned that a vote for Mitchell was a vote for LePage.

"I think I would have voted for her, but from what I've read, the polls I've seen, Libby Mitchell was declining so much."

Scott Chase, 48, a Republican who lives in Scarborough, voted for LePage for governor, with some reservations.

"He's self-made, he's familiar with working," said Chase, a family physician. "I hope he is what he says, because I know there's been a lot of misinformation out there. I think it's time for some change. Hopefully, they'll act on what the people want and not on their own agenda."

Chase also voted for Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree over Republican Dean Scontras. "I think Chellie has done a lot for the people of Maine," he said. "Dean, he's a little too conservative, I think."

Ferd Paradis, 63, a Republican who lives in Waterville, also voted for LePage, but he chose Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud over Republican Jason Levesque. "I like what he's been doing so far," Paradis said of Michaud.

While Maine teachers' unions backed Mitchell, some educators voted otherwise.

Tim Luff, 31, a special education director who lives in Norway, said he voted for LePage and Levesque.

"I'm a Republican and voted on the basic principle of smaller government," Luff said. "I'm all for a lot of social services, but not for the way the government handles it."

Peter Roof, 60, a Republican retiree who lives in Newport, also voted for LePage and Levesque.

"I consider myself a libertarian, and I'm sick and tired of the same old stuff," Roof said. "We need to reduce government. Whatever it takes to us to that point. I've lived here for more than 20 years and I was a businessman, and I was strangled by regulations and employee benefits. It's a very anti-business climate in Maine."

What turned some voters off turned other voters on.

Connie Gelinas, 74, and her husband, Bill, 75, Republican retirees who live in Scarborough, voted for LePage and Scontras.

"We voted for (LePage) not because he's French -- although that helps -- and not because he's Catholic -- although that helps -- but because he's pro-life and pro-marriage," Connie Gelinas said.

Tony Ackerman, 87, a Republican retiree who lives in Windham, voted for LePage because "he told it like it was. He has no frills. I liked his honesty. I had friends in Waterville who told me about his record as mayor." He voted for Scontras because "he avoided having a negative attitude."

Liz McMahon, 37, a stage art director who lives in Portland, voted for Mitchell and Pingree.

"I trust and agree with (Mitchell's) track record in the past on taxes, education, the environment. She is very liberal," said McMahon, a member of the Green Independent Party. "I have always been a big supporter (of Pingree) and think she has done an excellent job."

(Continued on page 2)

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