All Maine Matters

June 2006



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The Token Conservative: The Governor’s Race
By Jon Reisman

his column will appear just before Election Day and linger on the stands for several weeks thereafter. For that reason I was somewhat reluctant to tackle this most obvious of topics; columnists don’t like potentially embarrassing accountability any more than pols do.

Nevertheless, I thought I should give it a try. Only time and the voters will determine whether I’m eating crow or counting coup this June.

Governor Baldacci will handily win his primary race; I’d be surprised if he draws a large number of votes- I’d call his support “tepid.” A big chunk of the social service/nanny state community is ready to vote for their former lobbyist, Democrat turned Independent Rep. Barbara Merrill. Another group of disgruntled Democrats is decamping to vote for Sen. Peter Mills in the GOP primary.

The Republican primary will be very close. The best-known candidate, former 1st District Congressman Dave Emery, is the least well-financed. State Senators Peter Mills and Chandler Woodcock are less well known, but both are publicly funded “Clean Election” candidates and will have adequate money to raise their name recognition and compete in both the primary and general election, should it come to that.

Dave Emery will do well with moderates and older voters who know and remember him. If he somehow raises enough money to raise his profile he could pull it off, but I don’t think bringing Senator McCain here is the ticket.

Peter Mills will do well with liberals. Ironically, it’s Senator Mills who’s following the McCain script for winning a primary: get crossover votes from disaffected Democrats and Independents. And Governor Baldacci has made sure there are a lot of them. Mills may well be the most electable candidate in a general election, but he is not the only electable candidate- not in a three or four way race, not by a long shot.

Chandler Woodcock will do well with conservatives of both secular and religious stripe. He is the only candidate to strongly back Mary Adams and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Conservative voters are motivated voters, and those are the voters that count most in a primary. Woodcock will win the primary with 39-40% of the vote.
With Pat LaMarche (Green) and Barbara Merrill (Independent) on the left siphoning off 20%+ of the liberal vote, the Blaine House will be up for grabs in November. If Ms. Merrill qualifies for Clean Election funding, Governor Baldacci is toast.

Chandler Woodcock will command a united Republican Party. Liberal interest groups (Maine’s version of is called Democracy Maine) will attempt to scare the people of Maine about Chandler, but it won’t work… he’s not scary, he’ll have enough money to get his message out, and the voters are weary of Baldacci doublespeak. But I’m sure the left will put aside their gun control fetish this fall in order to go woodcock hunting.

Jon Reisman is the University of Maine System’s token conservative

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