Alex Cornell du Houx drops re-election bid: Lawmaker cites career move, political pressure

MDP party chair hurts democratic lawmaker's re-election chances

By Darren Fishell - June 30th, 2012 · 

Report from the Times Record

BRUNSWICK — Nearly two months after becoming the subject of a temporary protection from abuse order and amid pressure from party leaders to drop a re-election bid, House District 66 Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx announced that he will not seek re-election.

In a letter sent to The Times Record today, Cornell du Houx wrote that his decision to take on an active duty role in the U.S. Navy will preclude him from running from a third term.

Cornell du Houx wrote that the decision is partly a career move — “I am 29, and realistically it is a challenge to find a career option that works with the legislative schedule” — but also acknowledged that political pressure following the request for a protection order filed against him by Belfast Rep. Erin Herbig played a role in the decision.

In an interview last week with the Portland Press Herald, Ben Grant, chairman of Maine’s Democratic Party, urged Cornell du Houx to resign.

“What we do know are the political facts,” Grant said, “and we do know what a distraction is when it comes to an electoral season.”

In a letter to constituents dated June 15 and in a press release responding to Grant’s comments, Cornell du Houx blasted Grant for using a public forum to urge him to drop his re-election bid and for rekindling controversy about Herbig’s request for the protection order.

“When Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant revisited a private issue that was made public last May, his unnecessary comments reignited false accusations even though I was cleared by the police,” Cornell du Houx wrote in Friday’s letter to The Times Record. “Unfortunately, his unprofessional commentary will impact my re-election.”

The request for that protection order was ultimately dropped after a settlement between Herbig and Cornell du Houx.

In his letter announcing his resignation, Cornell du Houx wrote that he will accept an active duty assignment with the Navy Reserve on Jan. 8, 2013.

“I had requested an active duty date that did not coincide with the legislative session, but no slots were available, so I was assigned to Jan. 8,” he wrote. “I could go through the process and request another date. However, the events of late have given me time to consider the best way to continue in public service while I move forward with my future. I have chosen to take this opportunity to serve my community, state and nation by progressing my career in the Navy.”

He concludes the letter with “It has truly been an honor to serve you. I hope you will give me another opportunity to represent you in Augusta in the future..”

In a letter sent Friday to The Times Record, Andy Cashman, chairman of the Brunswick Democratic Town Committee, outlined the process for replacing Cornell du Houx.

“By law, the Brunswick Democratic Town Committee must hold a special meeting to select a replacement Democratic candidate for the November ballot,” Cashman wrote. “Before we may do so, the secretary of state must first declare the vacancy, after which we must hold our meeting to select a new candidate prior to July 23. We will hold this meeting as soon as possible upon receipt of the formal vacancy notification from the secretary of state.”

While attendance to that meeting will be open, only residents of District 66 who are a part of the 34-member town committee will take part in the voting to elect a replacement candidate.

Nominations for the position will be open, and Cashman said that anyone interested in running for endorsement of the Democratic Party should contact brunswickchair@gmail.com or by phone at 518-8369.

On Thursday, one of Cornell du Houx’s 2010 electoral challengers — K. Frederick Horch — announced his intention to seek the Green Independent Party’s nomination in a caucus on July 8.

Republican John Bouchard is slated to represent his party on the November ballot for House District 66.

Clarification: A protection from abuse order against Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx was requested by Rep. Erin Herbig and a temporary protection from abuse order was granted. Temporary orders are often granted as a precaution, for both parties, until a trial or other resolution is reached. Herbig and Cornell du Houx reached a settlement and the request for a protection from abuse order was withdrawn before the matter went to court.

This article appeared in the Times Record, June 29, 2012

The following is the full letter to the Times Record by Rep. Cornell du Houx

From legislative service to military service: Why I am withdrawing from the race

BY REP. ALEX CORNELL DU HOUX

Last December I was commissioned into the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer. I now conduct operational support for US Central Command (Middle East operations).

Maine’s Legislature convenes in January 2013 at the same time I have orders from the Navy to report for active duty starting Jan. 8. I will receive mandated further specialized training for my job as a public affairs officer.

When on active duty, I am prohibited from working in any political manner, as members of the military are sworn to protect the Constitution and follow the orders of our civilian political leaders.

I won’t be able to be at the State House to properly represent my constituents of District 66.

Our Legislature is part time, and the majority of lawmakers have other jobs. On average, a lawmaker — for this two-year public service job — earns $10,000 per year.

I am 29, and realistically it is a challenge to find a career option that works with the legislative schedule. Being in the Marine reserves, since 2002, I served my community as well as my country at the same time as I was deployed to Iraq before my election in 2008.

I had requested an active duty date that did not coincide with the legislative session, but no slots were available, so I was assigned to Jan. 8.

I could go through the process and request another date. However, the events of late have given me time to consider the best way to continue in public service while I move forward with my future. I have chosen to take this opportunity to serve my community, state and nation by progressing my career in the Navy.

When Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant revisited a private issue that was made public last May, his unnecessary comments reignited false accusations even though I was cleared by the police. Unfortunately, his unprofessional commentary will impact my re-election.

These allegations were withdrawn by a Belfast court on May 14, 2012. The State Police never even saw the need to interview me during their investigation and dismissed the matter. Their investigation ended on May 11, before my former fiancée and I finalized an agreement.

After Grant made his statements, I received many calls encouraging me to run, and my reaction was to stay in the race. However, it is my responsibility as a lawmaker to analyze what is best for my constituents.

I will continue to serve as a state representative in Augusta until the new Legislature is sworn in next year. I remain committed and dedicated to serving and protecting my community through the Legislature, coaching, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, chairing the Mitchell Scholar Alumni Council and as an officer in the Navy.

I’m heartened that our community, and the people of Maine, will benefit from my legislative committee work this year.

We successfully held back efforts to ram through proposals that would have undercut energy efficiency and Maine’s renewable energy standards.

I wrote and we passed a law to weatherize the State House.

I was successful in passing legislation to reduce the state’s dependency on oil, which improves our energy security and our bottom line. Gov. Paul LePage praised another law of mine that protects oil and gas consumers.

Ensuring our state and our country meet our veterans’ needs continues to be a passion of mine, and this legislative session I worked on many veterans’ issues, including the first ever women veterans’ memorial at the State House and a women veterans’ recognition program.

I am currently leading the first ever delegation of veterans working in government to Australia on a State Department trip for an exchange in government-to-government relations.

I am looking forward to serving my community, state and nation as an officer in the Navy. I wish to thank the people of Brunswick for your support. It has truly been an honor to serve you. I hope you will give me another opportunity to represent you in Augusta in the future.

Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx is a Democrat who represents House District 66 in the Maine Legislature.

Rep. Cornell du Houx withdraws from re-election to train as public affairs officer in the Navy

By Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald- June 30th, 2012 · 

The following is from the PPH article:

Democratic Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx confirmed that he is withdrawing from the House District 66 race. Cornell du Houx, who is in Australia, indicated via email that he is stepping aside because he has been called to active duty in the Navy Reserves.

Cornell du Houx, a former Marine, was commissioned as a Navy officer in December. He said the Navy informed him that his duty will begin Jan. 8, around the start of the next legislative session.Cornell du Houx said he is prohibited from participating in political activity while on active duty.

“I could go through the process and request another date. However the events of late have given me time to consider the best way to continue in public service while I move forward with my future,” he said.

He will complete his current term but will not appear on the ballot Nov 6. The Brunswick Democratic Town Committee has until July 23 to caucus and draft a new candidate. The announcement apparently ends a saga involving Cornell du Houx, whose breakup with Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, made news earlier this year.

The termination of their romantic relationship led Herbig to secure a temporary protection-from-abuse order against Cornell du Houx. The dispute ended with a court settlement.(Additional clarification: The temporary order was withdrawn by Herbig on May 14, 2012. The police investigation ended on May 11,2012.)

Since then, officials in the Democratic Party have said they wanted Cornell du Houx to end his re-election bid.

Party officials said he had assured Democratic leaders that he would step aside. However, Cornell du Houx refused to disclose his intentions when asked by a reporter a few days after the June 12 primary.

His refusal apparently frustrated Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant, who took the rare step of publicly calling for Cornell du Houx to abandon his candidacy for the good of the party.

Cornell du Houx lashed back at Grant before leaving for a two-week trip to Australia with the State Department and the American Council of Young Political Leaders.

Earlier this week, a widely distributed letter from Cornell du Houx to Brunswick residents was made public. The letter made no mention of the court settlement with Herbig, but instead focused on a police investigation that ended before the agreement. Authorities never interviewed Cornell du Houx.

Cornell du Houx took a swipe at Grant in his email statement on Friday.

“When Ben Grant revisited a private issue that was made public last May his unprofessional comments reignited false accusations even though I was cleared by the police,” Cornell du Houx wrote Friday.

He added, “After Ben made his statements I received many calls encouraging me to run and my reaction was to stay in the race. However, I have chosen to take this opportunity to serve my community, state and nation by progressing my career in the Navy.”

Cornell du Houx said he originally asked for an active-duty date that didn’t coincide with the next legislative session. However, he said, no slots were available so he was assigned to Jan. 8.