Former gubernatorial candidate Cutler repairs the record

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To the Editor;
I was away for much of the month of February, so I just came across the piece by David Farmer in your Feb. 4 edition that used me as a strawman for his criticism of “rich dudes” who might run for president of the United States, governor of Maine or, implicitly, any other public office – unless they run under the banner of Mr. Farmer’s Democratic Party.

I stand with the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: Mr. Farmer “is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” So I would appreciate this opportunity to repair the record following Mr. Farmer’s butchering of it.

First, Mr. Farmer asserts that I “twice delivered the Blaine House” to former Gov. Paul LePage by running as an independent in 2010 and 2014. The facts demonstrate otherwise. In 2010, I finished a close second to Mr. LePage, losing by less than 10,000 votes or about 1.7 percent. Mr. Farmer’s Democrat in the race, Libby Mitchell, finished a distant third, with barely more than half the votes that were cast for me. Had Ms. Mitchell endorsed me in the final days of that campaign, as Angus King did, there is little doubt in the minds of most observers that I would have won – saving Maine from what Mr. Farmer decries as the “scourge” of Paul LePage.

Second, in 2014 Mr. Farmer asserts that I made clear a “preference for LePage” over Mr. Farmer’s candidate Mike Michaud. I never said or did any such thing. What I said – and believe to this day – is that neither Mr. LePage nor Mr. Michaud had been or would be a good governor.

Finally, Mr. Farmer suggests that had I not run in 2014, Mr. Michaud would have been elected governor. There are no facts or data that support that speculation. Indeed, only two organizations did exit polling on the day of the 2014 election. NBC found that if only Mr. Michaud and Mr. LePage had been on the ballot, Mr. LePage would have won handily – by even a bigger margin than he did with me on the ballot. And the Center for Election Science reported that had ranked choice voting been in place for that election, I would have won – and that I would have easily beaten either Mr. LePage or Mr. Michaud in a head-to-head contest.

I told Mr. Michaud, in a meeting with him in Washington before he decided to run, that he couldn’t win whether I was on the ballot or not, but that I would surely win if he didn’t run. Mr. Farmer and his fellow Democrats in Maine couldn’t stomach the idea in either 2010 or 2014 that an independent was more electable and would have been a better governor than the Democratic Party candidate, and the consequence of their obstinate myopia was that Mr. LePage was governor for eight long years. That’s on them, not me.

Eliot Cutler
Cape Elizabeth

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