If any state provides a venue for success for independent gubernatorial candidates, it's Maine. One need look no further than
recent election results to understand. Since 1994, an Independent candidate has earned at least 20% of the vote in every
gubernatorial election except 2002. Included in that stretch are two elections in which the Independent candidate, Angus King,
actually won. King served as Maine's governor from 1995-2003. He has since moved on to the Senate where, though
he retains the Independent moniker, he caucuses with the Democrats.
After King's departure from the Governor's Mansion, Independent candidates have continued to exert influence on gubernatorial
contests. In 2006, Barbara Merrill, a former state legislator who left the Democratic party in advance of her run for governor,
placed a strong third with 21% of the vote. Four years later, businessman Eliot Cutler launched a bid to win the governorship
as an Independent. He enjoyed even more success than Merrill, coming in a close second to the current Governor of Maine,
Republican Paul LePage. In the three-way race, LePage barely bested Cutler, 38.1% - 36.4%, with Democrat Libby Mitchell
lagging behind with just 19.1%
This year, the 2014 Maine Governor Race will feature a rematch of sorts as Cutler is back to contest again for the office.
However, the rematch factor is overshadowed this go around because, unlike last time, Democrats have a very strong contender
in the mix. Congressman Mike Michaud is looking to become the first openly gay Governor in the nation, and early polling
suggests he's the favorite to do just that.
Several polls taken in the latter months of 2013 give Michaud leads over LePage in the low single digits with Cutler playing the role
of also-ran this cycle. Given Michaud's popularity in the state and LePage's tendency to mis-speak, Maine's Democratic
demographic makes it particularly difficult for the incumbent. I'm giving the early nod to Michaud by a slim margin, but don't be
surprised to see this one become more lopsided in favor of the Democrat as the election season progresses.
Preliminary projection: Weak DEM Gain
You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the
Maine Governor Election
page for polls, projections and updates. Also, check out the
2014 Governor Elections page for a
summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.
posted by Scott Elliott at 11:11pm 03/03/14 :: link