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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Governor of Maine

Being Maine's Governor must be an exceedingly attractive position. As of yesterday, there are 22 hats in the ring for this year's election. (The present Governor John Baldacci will have served two terms and can't run again.) By party there are 6 Democrats, 8 Republicans, 2 Greens, and 6 Independents.

That Republicans have the highest number is not really surprising. There's a long tradition in Maine for them to stand on. The Republican Party was founded in the 1850s as the anti-slavery party; Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was Lincoln's first Vice-President and the state was prominent in abolitionist work. Lincoln supposedly said to Harriet Beecher Stowe, when she lived in Brunswick, "So you're the little woman that started this great war." Maine continued to vote Republican even into the 1930s and had the distinction of being one of two states (Vermont the other) of denying FDR electoral votes in 1936, and it wasn't until the 1990s (with a brief aberration in 1968 - Edmund Muskie was Humphrey's VP candidate) that Democrats started to win in Maine. But William Cohen was Clinton's Secretary of Defense, and of course Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe carry on the tradition of female Republican Senators started by Margaret Chase Smith.

Over the years, unfortunately, the Republicans somehow lost the moral high ground. That they are still reasonably strong in Maine has much less to do with individual rights than with states' rights. Maine's people are in many ways remarkably tolerant, but when it comes to the long arms and sticky fingers of the federal government, a certain cussed independence tends to slap the hands that would feed them. Where else in the country would three-quarters of the candidates be non-Democrats?

1 comment:

Jeff Boatright said...

"Where else in the country would three-quarters of the candidates be non-Democrats?"

"Any state in the southeast." ?