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Saturday, August 14th, 2010, 5:41 pm

MEGOV Candidates Pick Their Parts

Mario Carmine Moretto | Maine Observer
Democratic candidate for governor Sen. Libby Mitchell, center, speaks with attendees Friday at the Island and Coastal Issues Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in Rockland, Maine.

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Mario Carmine Moretto | Maine Observer
Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler, right, speaks with an attendee Friday at the Island and Coastal Issues Gubernatorial Candidates Forum in Rockland, Maine.

ROCKLAND — In the beginning of a campaign, it’s important for candidates to establish the impression they want to leave in the minds of voters. So with the primaries two months behind them, each of the five candidates for governor is busy honing his or her image. At Friday’s Island and Coastal Issues Gubernatorial Candidates Forum at the Strand Theatre here on the Midcoast, the hopefuls further solidified what kind of candidate they will be during the campaign.

Eliot Cutler: The Contender

Cutler, an independent candidate, continues to bring a sense of gravity to the third-way campaign. We’re told over and over again that this year that being perceived as part of the establishment hurts. As the most experienced and well-known independent candidate, Cutler can try to stay above the fray of Red/Blue politics without having to go through the pain of being an unknown (See Kevin Scott, Shawn Moody). Remember those ads the day after the primaries? Cutler is definitely appreciative of not having that big (R) or (D) after his name.

At the forum, Cutler was on the offensive. His first comments amounted to an opening salvo at Republican Paul LePage, who was absent due to a scheduling conflict. Cutler, who has made energy policy a hallmark of his campaign, said he wished LePage had been there to defend his support for off-shore oil drilling in Maine.

“I find Paul’s support for off-shore drilling unconscionable,” Cutler said. “If anyone thinks they’re going to drill off the coast of Maine, they’re going to have to drill through me.” Cutler’s strength is in his policy positions, and his willingness to take criticism head-on, whether it be refuting accusations his campaign sifted through LePage’s trash, or holding his ground in a debate (See Shawn Moody, below).

Libby Mitchell: The Professional

Like Cutler, Democrat Mitchell has a boatload of experience.  Unlike Cutler, who worked primarily in D.C., Mitchell has spent her decades-long professional political career in Augusta. And she’s proud of it.

During the forum and on the stump, Mitchell peppers her approachable, personable style of campaigning with references to her time in the legislature. At the forum she approached questions in a matter-of-fact, this-is-how-its’s-done way.

When other candidates talked about the need to cut spending, Mitchell waxed philosophical, explaining the role of government spending.

“The budget for state government is nothing but a blueprint for our values,” Mitchell said, referencing roads, health care and education. “Let’s ask everyone who says they want to cut the budget, What would you cut?”

At another point, Mitchell casually explained the catch-22 of debating spending on road and bridge repair. Spend money now on roads, Mitchell said, or spend money later to fix your car because the roads are bad. This pragmatism, albeit solidly Democratic Left-pragmatism, lends Mitchell an air of professionalism. As does her tendency to slide into the background and campaign quietly when she is attacked. (She did make a passing comment on a recent controversy, saying “Most of you probably know how old I am because of some banter on the campaign …”)

The problem with Mitchell’s approach is that playing up your experience and legislature savvy can come awfully close to coming off as an “Augusta Insider” or “Career Politician.” For her part, Mitchell takes that risk head-on. “Public service is something I’m proud of,” she said Friday in Rockland.

Mitchell likewise shrugs off the assertion that her campaign has stayed in the background of this race. With LePage and Cutler making headlines over the last few weeks, people have wondered where Mitchell was. “I have not stepped back at all,” Mitchell told the Maine Observe, mentioning stops to people’s homes, community centers and visits to towns across the state. “Mine is very much a grassroots campaign,” she said.

Shawn Moody: The Libertarian?

Independent Shawn Moody (and Kevin Scott, for that matter) is harder to peg than Mitchell, Cutler or LePage.

At the forum Friday, Moody used nearly every opportunity he could to talk about small business, sometimes when it wasn’t even clear why. He was also the only candidate to drop “capitalism” and “the free market” into his responses, and repeated throughout the forum that the answer to most problems was relaxed regulation. These moves are usually preserved for libertarian-leaning candidates.

Moody did have one gem on Friday though. When the candidates were asked whether Maine should invest in the state’s lobstering industry, and how, Moody lobbed a volley at the lobster industry for not reinventing itself or it’s product. He said that shipping live lobster around the country was a model that “doesn’t work anymore.”

“It’s like going to the store and buying a whole chicken,” Moody said.

Paul LePage: The Recluse, nee Tea Partier

As noted above, Republican Paul LePage was absent from Friday’s forum. Organizers assured us that it really was a scheduling conflict that kept him away. Still, ever since the “Crazy Train” affair and the promise to deal with press only in writing, LePage has really slid into the background of this election — a complete 180-degree turn from just a few weeks ago, when Mitchell was widely accused of the same.

When LePage won the primary, backed by Maine’s tea party crowd, we were shocked. When LePage continued to place first in early polls, we were shocked. When LePage went off-script that fateful day on the rails of the Midcoast, we were shocked (and amused). Now, all we can do is wonder what’s next for the Waterville mayor and early gubernatorial favorite.

Kevin Scott: The Starry-Eyed Newcomer

As with Shawn Moody, I have paid less attention to Kevin Scott, the last independent candidate, than I should. I’m aware of his 32-hour workweek plan for state workers and his role with water treatment in Andover and his smart-looking website.

Scott, more than any of his competitors, was in it to win it on Friday. And it was laughable. Literally. The audience laughed at Scott twice, both times because of his pretentious answers; once for saying that one of his opponents could be his education commissioner after he won the race, and again when he chastised Eliot Cutler for debating Shawn Moody on whether to require automobile inspection. Had these both been jokes, Scott would of been a hit. But he said he was serious.

This self-assured ego contrasted with the man on stage, who seemed to be shocked to have made it as far as he has. I don’t say this to slight Scott, who seems to have his heart in the right place, but for most of the forum, he gazed around the theater and looked confused. He was the only candidate to make the moderator repeat questions.

At one point, he said the answer to all the questions, ranging from education to transportation, would be the same: “I’ll bring in people who know a thing or two that I don’t,” who can help fix the problem. This lack of nuance makes him look shallow when compared to folks like Mitchell or Cutler who can talk policy in their sleep.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 12:58 pm

Maine Tea Party movement brushes Amy Hale scuffle under the rug

UPDATE: Here’s a link Mike Tipping posted of the “other side” of the Amy Hale story, from Jeff Cucci.

There is trouble brewing, or maybe steeping, in Maine’s Tea Party crowd.

And they don’t want anyone knowing about it. Last week, our buddy Mike Tipping reported on a post at Maine Patriots in which founder Amy Hale was said to have circulated an e-mail where she described being accosted and forced to hand over the reigns of her website. Hale later filed a police report, the investigation of which is ongoing.

The whole ruckus is reminiscent of what happened last time people tried to have a decentralized, blue-collar movement. OK, maybe it’s not exactly the same as the Second International, but the point is that some core players in Maine’s Tea Party/Patriot movement are clearly having a power struggle, and a lot of it seems to be about personalities — at least if a post over at Paint Maine Red giving the “other side of the story” is to be believed.

That other side of the story was posted last week, and described how a group of Patriots had confronted Hale about concerns they had with the way she was running the posse. The post described Amy as a liability and an ineffective leader.

As savvy readers, you’ll notice a lack of direct quotes or links to the post in question. That’s because the post on Paint Maine Red has been removed, or at least hidden. So has the original thread at Maine Patriots where Hale’s e-mail had been posted, presumably censored by whoever took the reins from Hale. As a matter of fact, PMR’s whole forum is now members-only. Most of the users over at Maine Patriots seem to be concerned about how the controversy will affect their movement, saying things like, “We do not need a revolution within a revolution. We have a goal in sight lets stick to it, follow it and let the liberals beware.”

So why the secrecy? When the core sequence of events in the Tea Party drama unfolded last week, everything was out in the open. It could be that the Patriots are unhappy with the coverage their little flap received. Maybe the removal or hiding of posts that gave insight into what happened is just damage control.

Stay tuned as we try to uncover more about the Tea Party brouhaha.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010, 1:56 pm

Could Paul LePage please define “creationism”?

William P. Davis | Maine Observer
Republican candidate for governor Paul LePage shares a laugh Wednesday, June 16, after a unity rally in Waterville.

Much ado has been made about remarks by Paul LePage last weekend during a railroad fundraiser in which the candidate was joined by reporters, supporters and other 2010 office-seekers. The Waterville Republican was accused of making a jab at Democrat Libby Mitchell’s age, for which he later apologized.

That’s the story that’s been floating around for the past several days. But wrapped up in AgeGate 2010 were some other remarks from LePage that are perhaps more important. Namely, does LePage — nominally the conservative, Christian choice for governor — know what creationism is?

A little background: During MPBN’s Republican Candidate Primary Debate, LePage was asked, “Do you believe in creationism and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?” LePage’s answer: “I would say the more education you have, the more knowledge you have, the better person you are. And I believe yes…and yes.”

The listener could be forgiven for not thinking much of the candidate’s answer. The fact that LePage believes in creationism is not too big of a variation from the official Catholic belief, which is sort of hazy anyway . One wouldn’t have been expected to be shocked to know LePage thought creationism should be taught in schools, either.

Here’s where it starts to get hairy.

LePage recently accused Democrats’ 2010 campaign manager Arden Manning of saying the Republican was unfit to govern because he’s a French Canadian Catholic. Manning, for his part, denies this ever happened, but told the Bangor Daily News that he had criticized LePage’s stance on creationism and other issues.

According to the BDN, LePage had a conversation with Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Susan Sharon that went something like this:

“My opponents are saying that I am not fit to be a governor because I am French Catholic,” LePage said, according to a recording of the interview supplied by the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Asked to be more specific, LePage said such comments have been made on a number of blogs. He then named Manning specifically.

“The guy, his name is Arden Manning. [He] is the guy that is spilling this garbage,” LePage said.

“He is saying that because of your French Catholicism you are not fit?” pressed MPBN’s Susan Sharon.

“Yeah,” LePage replied. “He calls me a creationist. I tried it, though. I did try. I went to the river and tried to part it and it didn’t move. I tried to walk across my pool and I sunk,” he said with a laugh.

First off, LePage is equating the Democrats’ real concern with his being a creationist, (which I can only assume means “believer of creationism”), with an imagined concern of his being a French Catholic. Simply put, he’s mixing up the terms “creationist” and”French Catholic.”

Moreover, the Hulk-sized pink elephant in the room is that LePage seemed not to know what he was being asked. He told Sharon that he “tried” being a creationist but that it didn’t work. The examples he gives of how he tried consist of detailing his futile attempts to part, then walk on, water. So now the Republican candidate for governor has confused “French Catholic” with “creationist,” and “creationist” with “miracle-worker.”

So did LePage stumble on his words during the debate (“And I believe … yes, and yes.”) because he’s not the worlds greatest public speaker, or because he was trying to remember what creationism is?

Some may say LePage is just feeling the stress of the campaign, but this is not just a question of semantics. Mayor LePage has said on the record that he believes in creationism and thinks it should be taught in schools. Whether Biblical ideas should be taught to children in a public education setting is a contentious issue in this state as well as the whole nation. “Teach kids creationism” isn’t a bandwagon a savvy politician should jump on for no reason or a position one would take on whim.

LePage has said since the beginning of his campaign that he didn’t want to focus on social issues. This gaffe could mean that he’s not prepared to address issues outside the realm of jobs and the economy, the two areas LePage wants to focus on. Teaching creationism in school — like gay marriage, abortion and seperation of church and state — are hot-button issues fueled by people deppy held (or not held) beliefs. Candidates cannot afford to shoot from the hip.

LePage, for his part, seems to feel burned by the press because of all the attention his remarks have received. After apologizing for the age comment about Libby Mitchell, he told WVOM 103.9 FM that he wouldn’t be answering questions from reporters except through written correspondence. He said reporters “won’t report what you say, they just report the spin that they want to put on it.”

In a move to temper the storm, Maine’s Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster told WMTW that the candiate would talk again, he just “won’t spend a lot of time talking about issues that are not important to Maine people.”

(Editors note: Before publishing this piece, Maine Observer tried to contact the LePage’s campaign by e-mail and telephone. Neither Mayor LePage nor any representative have responded. When they do, we’ll post an update to this story). Thanks to Tony Reaves for some clarification on the official Catholic position on creationism.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Friday, July 16th, 2010, 1:20 pm

Psst … he’s here.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette| MaineToday Media
President Obama waves to the press after arriving at Bar Harbor Airport Friday.

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Rebekah Metzler | MaineToday Media
The First Family's plane, Gulfstream G3, taxis on arrival at Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton.
Rebekah Metzler | MaineToday Media
The Obama motorcade on the tarmac at Hancock County-Bar Harbor airport.

Obama arrived at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor airport around 12:25 today, and headed to Mount Desert Island in a presidential motorcade. There are a few photos up around the Web. Here is some info about how Maine news organizations are covering the First Family’s visit.

The Bangor Daily News has perhaps dedicated the most effort to the president’s visit. I’ve gotten word that at least three reporters are there this weekend, in addition to photographers. They’ve launched a subsection of their own website (, with a very smart looking banner) and are aggressively courting their readers for photos and tips via Twitter and Facebook. (Update: BDN reporters are also tweeting from the ground at @bdnlive more frequently than the site is being updated.)

Rebekah Metzler from MaineToday (Is she KJ? PPH? Political correspondent for the complete MaineToday empire?) has the first locally-written story I’ve seen so far. The rest of the papers seem to still be running the AP brief. Sadly, my hometown paper and the publication with the most to gain from this visit, The Bar Harbor Times, has yet to break Obama’s arrival, as of this writing. Neither has the Sun Journal, for that matter. (Update: BDN has its own story up now, too. The Sun Journal has broken the story, but as of 3:20 p.m., it’s still just the AP version).

While the question of where the First Family will stay has been answered, I’m left with more pressing concerns. Mainly: Where will they eat?  I doubt the president and his family will pop into Geddy’s for pizza burgers and lobster bowls, but here’s to hoping.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010, 12:39 pm

Finance reform, governor’s race posturing and Barefoot Contessa

jkirlin on Flickr
Sen. Olympia Snowe will support the $19 billion overhaul of the financial regulatory system.

The biggest Maine-related news yesterday was the announcement from Sen. Olympia Snowe that she will vote for financial regulations reform, adding her name to the short list of Republicans, including her Maine colleague Susan Collins and Mass. Sen. Scott Brown, to support the bill. Now that financial reform is nearly a done deal, and both health care reform and the less-often mentioned student aid reform have all been passed under the Obama administration, the question is this: How does the President, facing an all-time low confidence rating, translate these legislative victories to victories at the polls in November? Just wait for the comparisons to FDR to start rolling off the presses …

The Maine Democratic Party has once again challenged Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage to rebuke the Maine GOP’s controversial new Tea Party-based political platform. This press release tries to remind Mainers that Pine Tree State GOP officially supports the abolition of the Department of Education, the opting-out of United Nations Treaties, and more. In tying LePage to this platform, which he has never outright rejected, the Dems hope to continue painting LePage as “too extreme for Maine,” (their words).

Not to be outdone, Paul LePage is attempting to frame the debate as well. In an e-mail to supporters today, the Waterville mayor had this to say about the race:

“Libby Mitchell is spending literally hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to defeat us. Cutler has spent over a half million trying to convince voters he is not the liberal Democrat he has always been. National groups are coming in to defeat us.”

In three sentences, LePage manages to paint Mitchell as a tax-and-spend liberal through her use of clean election funds; lump Cutler in with the Democrats, thus countering the popular image of him as “middle of the road”; and paints himself as the underdog, despite a Rasmussen poll that puts him in the lead, 43-36. (Note the use of the ever-vague “National groups” boogieman.)

Coming up … Maine Democratic Party’s Coordinate Campaign will open their Bangor office at 5 p.m. Thursday. Libby Mitchell and other candidates will be there. // “Barefoot Contessa,” of the Food Network (I’m not kidding), will headline a series of fundraisers for Eliot Cutler in Portland. She and Cutler used to work together in the Carter administration (I’m still not kidding). // President Barack Obama will be on Mount Desert Island this weekend. D.S. MacLeod and yours truly will be on the island talking to locals and trying to catch a glimpse of the most powerful man in the world — hopefully in his golf shorts.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Monday, July 12th, 2010, 12:14 pm

In The Know: LePage’s alcoholic dad, same-sex marriage and education reform

It’s been a crazy weekend here on the Midcoast, with the North Atlantic Blues Festival bringing tons of people into town and closing down Main Street, resulting in cars, trucks and vans parked in every miniscule open bit of pavement in town. With the weekend now over, it’s time to get back to what really matters.

This is the first installment of “In the Know,” a quick take of what the Maine Observer is reading to stay afloat in the deep waters that are Maine politics.

The Associated Press wrote a piece on Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage, which details the abuse laid on the Waterville mayor by his alcoholic father. This is only the second piece we’ve seen that discusses LePage as more than just the tea party-driven, conservative candidate.  A New Yorker article that described LePage’s Marden’s franchise as “eBay 0.0″ was the first. Both are compelling reads that offer a fresh perspective on what made “Front Page LePage” who he is today.

The same-sex marriage debate rolls on in Augusta as the National Organization for Marriage and EqualityMaine, among others, plan competing events in the state’s capital on Wednesday. The pro-gay marriage folks will be inside the State House to hold a morning press conference, while the anti-gay marriage crowd will be rallying in Capitol Park at noon to kick-off a national tour to support traditional marriage.

The indispensable Derek Viger wrote a great overview last week of the way the education debate is shaping up in the race for the Blaine House, couched in the “gloves-off” battle in the op-ed pages of the Bangor Daily News, where Eliot Cutler and Libby Mitchell sparred over education reform and Mitchell’s endorsement from the MEA.

And just in case you’ve been living under a rock, President Barack Obama and his family will vacation on Mount Desert Island this weekend, as announced by Rep. Chellie Pingree, who seems to be the Democratic Party’s herald in the Pine Tree State.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010, 1:04 pm

Eliot Cutler featured in USA Today

Early this morning, USA Today ran this article about three “credible” independent candidates running for governor this year, all of whom are running in New England states.

Included are Cutler; Lincoln Chafee, a former Rhode Island Republican; and  Tim Cahill, a former Democrat and current treasurer of Massachusetts. The article points out that no independent candidate has been elected Governor for more than 10 years, since Jesse “The Body” Ventura was elected executive of Minnesota in 1999. Its been 12 years since Maine elected its last independent, Angus King, in 1998.

“One of the things we’re seeing this year is a voter revolt against the extremes in both parties and a desire to find candidates who can be elected from the middle and who can govern from the middle,” Cutler told USA Today.

King, the only candidate to win the governorship by a majority since 1982 (he ran away with almost 59 percent of the votes in ’98),  is quoted in the article, saying that if the two major parties keep acting the way they do, Americans will “find other options.”

The article also includes new USA Today/Gallup numbers indicating that a full 60 percent of Americans are very or somewhat likely to vote for an independent this year. The numbers are interesting, but not very compelling, with a sample size was only 1,014. More people than that will probably vote for Alex Hammer.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Monday, July 5th, 2010, 7:12 pm

Unenrolled voters flock to GOP during primary season

William P. Davis | Maine Observer
Peter Mills speaks at a unity rally to support Paul LePage in June.

Speaking with the Maine Observer after Paul LePage stormed the Republican field to win the primary, long-time Maine politician and one-time candidate for governor Peter Mills predicted that thousands of unenrolled voters had joined the Republican Party on Election Day and propelled LePage to victory.

At the time, the numbers for election day were unavailable, but early numbers backed up Mills’ claim. Now, the final enrollment changes are in from the Secretary of State’s Office, and the numbers are strong for Republicans.

Between June 1 and June 15, more than 12,000 voters changed their enrollment status to the Republican Party, in addition to 1,294 new voters who registered as Republicans. That’s in comparison to 7,403 voters who changed their status to Democrats and 1,136 new voters who registered as Democrats. Most of the new members of both party were unenrolled voters.

A pretty powerful statement for Republicans, and an indicator that this will be an especially involved election season. Compare the numbers to  Jan. 1 through June 15 of 2008, when Democrats saw 20,513 voters and Republicans saw 5,693 voters enroll in their party during a presidential election season. In an off election season, 16,526 new members for the Republicans is very strong, although their numbers don’t exactly dwarf the Democrats, who saw 10,660 new members.

Jun 1-15 2010 Enrollments and Enrollment Changes

New Registration Enrollments

Party    #
D         1,136
G         157
R         1,294
U         733
Total    3,320

Enrollment Changes

From    To      #
D             G        38
D             R        621
D             U        275
G             D        181
G             R        172
G             U        118
R             D        249
R             G        23
R             U        194
U             D        6,973
U             G        291
U             R    11,303
Total        20,438

Changed To:

Party    #
D          7,403
G          352
R          12,096
U          587

William P. Davis is editor of MaineMedia and a founding editor of the Observer.

Sunday, July 4th, 2010, 1:23 pm

What’s next for Rosa Scarcelli?

Andrew Catalina | Maine Observer
Rosa Scarcelli recently sat down with Maine Observer for an interview in her Portland offices.

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Andrew Catalina | Maine Observer
“As far as my life," Scarcelli said, "I want to make a difference. I don’t need more stuff. I want to go and do something that will make life better for people, and there’s a lot of opportunity.”
Andrew Catalina | Maine Observer
Scarcelli talked about the possibility of a TV or Radio forum. "A show called 'Maine Rising' could be really interesting, and could be an opportunity to talk about all the bright spots, all the things that are working, and all the things we could do differently to make an impact.”

PORTLAND, Maine — On the evening of June 8, Primary Day in the Pine Tree State, Rosa Scarcelli celebrated a win with her supporters in Portland.

“Going from a dead-stop — zero, no one knew me — to 27,000 votes for a first-timer? That’s a win,” she said in a recent interview. “Even if I had come in fourth, it wouldn’t have mattered. The reality is that I came out of nowhere, and that’s a lot.”

Scarcelli, CEO of Portland-based Stanford Management, finished third in the four-way Democratic primary. She topped out at almost 22 percent of the vote, nearly a dead second-place split with Steve Rowe (about 23 percent) and Pat McGowan (about 20 percent). While Sen. Libby Mitchell (35 percent) took the prize in the four-way race, Scarcelli’s third-place finish may be the great untold story of this year’s Democratic primary.

When she started the race last year, she was a darkhorse private sector candidate facing a field of Augusta and D.C. veterans. She beat McGowan, a Democratic powerhouse with more than 20 years experience at the state and federal level, in two-thirds of Maine’s counties, and contended against 1st Congressional District favorite Rowe. All in all, Team Rosa managed to convince more than 26,000 Maine Democrats that she should be governor.

Scarcelli says she will use the momentum she built during the campaign to propel her through the transition into whatever comes next. So, just what is next for the newly minted politician who’s never held elected office? Your guess is as good as mine.

She talks a lot about “transitioning” into new “projects,” but she’s either not sure or not telling exactly what those projects will be. One thing is for sure, though: She’s not giving any hints as to whether she’ll run for office again. (Scarcelli did say that her campaign’s finance director, Emily Mellencamp-Smith is off working on a federal election campaign, “gaining some experience,” after which she will come back to help Scarcelli with whatever it is that’s coming next. Again, your guess is as good as mine in terms of what that means.)

“Opportunities to serve again will come, and I’ll be ready to evaluate them when they do,” Scarcelli said. “I’ve been very flattered with everyone’s suggestions for different offices since Wednesday after the election. And it’s very nice. But we really need to see how we can make the most impact. It’s not about the office so much as how we can make the biggest difference.”

And Rosa does have plans for how to make a difference. In the course of our short interview, she mentioned the possibilities of moving to Haiti or New Orleans to help there (presumably with housing, Stanford Management’s industry), picking a few important issues to “champion” in Maine or D.C., helping to bring the business community back under the Democratic Party’s tent and starting a new company with a social responsibility component.

Mostly she talked about creating some kind of forum, possibly even a TV show, to engage Mainers.

“I’d like to work on are creating a forum, where we can keep talking about the issues that we raised during the campaign — whether that might be creating a blog or doing a talk radio show or approaching some of the media outlets here in Maine to do a hosted TV show. Those are things I’d like to pursue.”

Perhaps because she was such a newcomer, there wasn’t a lot of controversy surrounding Scarcelli’s campaign for the Democratic nod. The closest she got to any sort of firestorm was when the folks over at Dirigo Blue took her to task for this ad, in which she encouraged independents to register as Democrats to vote for her, then to leave the party if they wanted. Gerald Weinland said this was antithetical to party building.

“I think that’s shortsighted. Maine is one of the few states that has such a high percentage of unenrolled voters. A majority of voters in Maine are unenrolled in a party. That means the parties aren’t working for them,” Scarcelli said. “There are other states that have a more open enrollment process, and when 60,000 people come out to vote, as they did in this last election, and don’t vote for one of the Democratic or Republican candidates, that’s 60,000 people that don’t have a voice and have their choices made for them.”

This party-centric approach to politics is central to Scarcelli’s feelings about her own party. But it’s not partisanism. Scarcelli is quick to point out that she doesn’t care which side of the aisle a good idea comes from. And she thinks Mainers feel the same. She said she doesn’t buy into the notion of hyper-partisanism, or the dominant narrative she says is being forced on this election; a narrative of a hard-right LePage and a hard-left Mitchell.

“There were frustrated people that were Republicans, Independents and Democrats,” Scarcelli said of the campaign trail. “I think you’ve got some people who are trying to take that middle road and paint the extreme left and the extreme right. The reality is that they’re good people. Libby is a good person. Paul is a good person. The narrative of extreme left and extreme right does not do good to anyone. It’s just a stereotype.”

“I want us to be working together toward solutions. I don’t buy into screaming, yelling, bitching and moaning. I say, give me a solution.”

Scarcelli said she’d be willing to add her areas of expertise to the effort to elect Libby Mitchell.

“If I can help her [Mitchell], with reforming government in particular, that would be good. But I think we need to wait and see how everything unfolds,” Scarcelli said. “But I would love nothing more than to serve the state of Maine, to help us take advantage of all our opportunities, to make us strong.”

For now, she’s working to settle the debt she loaned to her campaign. According to the Bangor Daily News, more than half the $850,000 she spent running for Governor was her own money. She plans to launch a new website soon, an online home for her current and future endeavors.

And we’ll be watching.

Check back later for audio of the Observer’s interview with Scarcelli.

Emily Mellencamp Smith

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010, 11:29 am

Endorsement season is on

We’re officially in endorsement season, folks. It can often seem like just so much political theater (no one will be surprised when the Chamber of Commerce supports the Republican candidate), but endorsements do carry consequences in elections. They mean money, access to voters through mailing lists and bodies on the ground to help their candidate win.

In not completely surprising news, the Maine AFL-CIO, the state’s federation of labor unions, has endorsed Sen. Libby Mitchell for governor. Said Mitchell in a press release:

“The debate during this election is centered on who is best equipped to create jobs in Maine. Since the beginning of my campaign I have made the case that I am that person. As Senate president, I successfully advocated for passage of a bond package that will put people back to work this summer. As governor, I will continue the hard work of putting Maine people back to work.

I have stood with Maine’s working families my entire career, supporting safe workplace conditions, fair wages, and recently joining with the state’s paper-makers to protest illegal paper-dumping from China and to support fairer trade policies.”

The Maine AFL-CIO has given Libby a 100 percent “Right” rating (as opposed to “Wrong”) for her voting record during the last legislative session. The percent was calculated based on how Mitchell voted on four key labor issues during the 2008 legislative session — legislation including L.D. 2095, An Act To Ensure the Freedom of Family Child Care Providers To Jointly Negotiate with the State.

As said before, no surprises here. Ask anyone who labor unions are going to support and you will hear a near-unanimous chorus of “Democrats.” But labor unions are some of the most effective get-out-the-vote organizations that exist. The Maine AFL-CIO also has a direct line to their members, all 26,000 of whom will inevitably be getting “Vote Libby” mailers explaining how the Vassalboro Democrat has their best interests in mind as the election draws nearer.

In another campaign nonshocker, the unions also supported Rep. Mike Michaud (Maine labor’s golden child) in the 2nd Congressional District and Chellie Pingree in the 1st CD.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.