All Maine Matters

June 2006



This Month’s Issue
Read November’s Issue of All Maine Matters.


Low Bandwidth - Text Only

Designed by Laisha

Maine GOP Convention 2006: Gubernatorial Candidate Speeches
By Scott K Fish

None of the Maine Republican Party’s three gubernatorial candidates “set the crowd on fire.” That’s how one delegate at the GOP State convention in Augusta assessed the speeches of David Emery, Peter Mills, and Chandler Woodcock. However, Woodcock did get the best crowd reaction and delivered the best one-liner of the day.

I was watching the reaction of delegates in their seats, not the reaction of the candidate cheering squads.

All the gubernatorial candidates’ presentations were alike in ways. Each had as many supporters as they could muster march to the stage from the back of the Augusta Convention Center carrying campaign signs, balloons, and whooping it up. Someone introduced each candidate, followed by a short candidate movie, more introductions by family members, and then the candidate’s speech.

“I mean business and I want to be your next governor,” said Peter Mills, who was the first to speak to the delegates. Mills supporters each held two long green hot dog shaped balloons. Instead of clapping, they tapped their balloons together, creating a timbale-like percussive sound.

Mills’s speech was a bit too long on family history. If the point is to let us know his family has been around all of Maine forever: great. I think Mills’s speech would be stronger if he had made that point quicker. His biggest round of applause — his only standing ovation — came when Mills asked delegates to join him in thanking Maine’s military people for their service.

Citizens want “government that is intelligent and fair,” said Mills. He hit hard against Gov. Baldacci’s Dirigo Health Plan, saying, “Dirigo has driven more people out of health care than are protected by it.”

Baldacci, said Mills, “is unable to comprehend economics,” listing Baldacci failures in balancing the State Budget, tax policies, borrowing and spending, and regulations.

“Our challenges may be great, but they can be overcome,” said Mills. “The road to the Blaine House starts here.” And, he told the crowd, “We can only win with a unified party.”

Dave Emery spoke next. His biographical movie several times tied Emery to President Ronald Reagan by citing ways in which Emery worked with Reagan. Emery said his “number one priority” as governor is to “make government work and reduce state spending.

Emery also used his movie to tell delegates he is the only non-Clean Elections candidate and he would welcome campaign contributions online.

“This governor has horribly managed the budget,” Emery said of Baldacci. His state budgets “depend on ruses and gimmicks and they’re destroying our economy.”

“I will not use taxpayer money to run my campaign,” Emery said, telling the crowd that he wouldn’t be a leader if he would first “dip into your till” to run for governor. Emery as governor will audit all of State government, he said, drawing healthy applause. “My budgets will withstand the light of day and will be available to everyone online.”

David Emery closed out his remarks with his ideas for reviving Maine’s economy, including having the State be an “epicenter for renewable energies.”

Chandler Woodcock’s movie had the sound and feel of a country music video. “My vision is for government that is small and better,” Woodcock began. He was the only one of the three candidates to recognize and thank Mary Adams for her toward that goal with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The GOP delegates gave Mary a standing ovation.

“I’m here to put the state on a diet,” Woodcock went on, “and it starts with your income tax.” Health insurance reform? “I will allow Mainers to purchase health insurance from other states.” Government reform? “I will hire managers, fire them if they don’t do the job, reward them if they do.”

Chandler Woodcock said he does “not favor special rights” and believes marriage should be protected as a covenant between “one man and one closed,” a remark which prompted another delegate standing ovation.

“Baldacci has over-promised and under-delivered,” said Woodcock, then entering a call-and-response with the crowd:
“Have your taxes gone down?” “NO!”

“Is health insurance more affordable?” “NO!”

“And he (Baldacci) promised (Woodcock pauses and holds high his cell phone) better cell phone coverage.” Woodcock then put his cell phone to his ear and spoke into it, “Governor, can you hear me now?”

The audience loved that line. It was the best line of the three candidates.

I asked about ten people who heard all three speeches which candidate they felt best reached the delegates. Woodcock was the favored choice with everyone. However, I also heard from everyone that while all three candidates were respectable, none of the three “set the crowd on fire” or “hit a home run.”

Five weeks or so remain in this primary contest. It will be fun to see which lessons, if any, the Woodcock, Emery, and Mills take from the convention to sharpen their messages.
Well done, gentlemen.

Scott K Fish has been active in Maine politics since 1989. He is founder/owner of the As Maine Goes web site, writes a monthly political column for Bangor Metro magazine, and is a consultant for the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2006 All Maine Matters