By Ramona du Houx - October 29th, 20114
With one week remaining before Election Day and the polls showing Paul LePage and Mike Michaud neck-and-neck in the race to be Maine’s next governor, a half-dozen high-profile supporters of Eliot Cutler gathered at Ocean Gateway in Portland and announced their intention to unite behind Michaud in order to defeat LePage.
“Going back to 2010 I have been a fervent Cutler supporter,” said Jim Shaffer, a retired educator and former CEO of the Guy Gannet Company from Cape Elizabeth. “I certainly think he has the best ideas for moving the state forward and strong skills for executing those ideas. I know many of you share this view. But this week I’ve come to a sad conclusion that Eliot isn’t going to win, and if I vote for him, I might be doing damage because Maine can ill afford four more years of Paul LePage. I’m now sporting a Michaud sticker on my car. I’ll vote for him, and I hope you will join me.”
Speakers included businessmen, environmental leaders, educators, and women’s health advocates. The event followed on the heels of a last-minute press conference called by Eliot Cutler where he restated that voters should “vote their consciences.”
John Coleman, CEO of the VIA Agency, a nationally recognized advertising firm in Portland employing over 130 people stated, “People often confuse being right with doing right. Now is the time for all of us who have supported Eliot Cutler to do the right thing and vote for Mike Michaud. Paul LePage has been damaging to our state. We need to unite for Maine’s future because we all deserve better.”
Community leaders urged unity in order to defeat LePage.
“Up until three days ago, I was an Eliot Cutler supporter,” said Emily Springer, a business strategy consultant from Cape Elizabeth. “But with only one week left until Election Day and the stakes as high as they’ve ever been, I’m switching my vote in order to defeat Paul LePage. I live in Maine because of the natural beauty, the clean water and air, and the way people work together in a fair and respectful way to solve problems. I’m uniting behind Michaud to defeat LePage. He may not be my first choice but he’ll be a governor who can help us work together again, find common ground, move Maine forward, and restore the dignity that’s been lost.”
“Since Paul LePage took office four years ago I have been shocked by his attitude, his remarks, and his flagrant disregard for the office he holds,” said Layne Gregory, a women’s health advocate from Falmouth. “But those feelings pale in comparison to the impact his policies have had on Maine women and families. His views are extreme, dangerous, and out of touch with the overwhelming majority of Mainers. Four years ago I voted for Eliot Cutler, but with so much at stake this year, it’s time for us to unite for Maine because we cannot afford another four years of Paul LePage’s extreme agenda.”
Late this afternoon U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) released the following statement in response to today’s announcement by Eliot Cutler “releasing” his supporters to vote their consciences.
“Eliot Cutler is a fine man who would make a good governor of our state. He is a friend who I believe would be a true consensus builder, ready to put solutions ahead of politics. My feelings about Eliot on these matters have not changed since I endorsed his candidacy four years ago and again this past August. But, like Eliot, I too am a realist. After many months considering the issues and getting to know the candidates, it is clear that the voters of Maine are not prepared to elect Eliot in 2014.
“The good news is that we still have a chance to elect a governor who will represent the majority of Maine people: my friend and colleague, Mike Michaud. And today, I’d like to offer him my support.
“I have worked with Mike Michaud for twenty years and know that he has what it takes to be Maine’s next Governor. He has lived the American dream — going from the mill floor in Millinocket to the halls of Congress — and he knows in his heart that everyone, willing to work for it, deserves a chance to get ahead. Mike believes in protecting our environment and finding new ways to grow Maine’s economy and, as I have seen first-hand, is absolutely tenacious in defending Maine’s interests.
“This was not an easy decision, but I think the circumstances require that those of us who have supported Eliot look realistically at the options before us at this critical moment in Maine history.
“In the end, I believe that what drives us to the polls should be hope – not fear; what calls us to participate in the political dialogue should be optimism – not cynicism; and what informs our decision to vote for the Governor of Maine should be the belief in a system of government where every vote counts.”
“I’m grateful and humbled by Sen. King’s endorsement and his support,” said Michaud. “Sen. King and I have worked together for many years, and we’ve always tried to put the best interests of our state first. With only six days left before Election Day, momentum is building and if we all stand together I believe that we can bring the change we need to Augusta. This is a close race, and we need every voter to show up on Tuesday.”