Michaud’s colleagues, political opponents, commentators respond to announcement

Reactions from Maine and nationwide have been coming in since Rep. Mike Michaud’s announcement that he is gay.

Gov. LePage adviser Brent Littlefield

In an interview today, Gov. Paul LePage’s top political adviser told the BDN: “I’m not even going to give a ‘no comment.’”

Eliot Cutler

“This is an entirely personal matter and has no bearing whatsoever on a candidate’s qualifications to be governor.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

In a statement released Monday, Michaud’s colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives wrote, “I’ve known Mike Michaud for over twenty years and served with him in the Maine Legislature and Congress. Over those years the people of Maine have grown to know him, to like him and to trust him to represent them.  Mike is the same person today as he was yesterday — he has always represented the people of Maine with commitment and dedication, and I know that won’t change.”

State Sen. Emily Cain

State Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, who is running in the Democratic primary for Michaud’s 2nd Congressional District seat, released a statement of support for Michaud. “I strongly support Mike Michaud because he is the best choice for governor in 2014. Mike Michaud is the same leader with integrity, character, and the right vision for Maine that he was before this announcement, and I continue to support him completely,” Cain said.

“I have long been a very public advocate for equal rights for all races, genders, and sexual orientations, and that support has never – and will never – waiver. At the same time, Congressman Michaud has represented the second Congressional District of Maine with class over the past six terms. He has stood up for democratic values, while also representing the best interests of the people of his district and of Maine. He has done tireless work for Veterans, he has stood up for Maine businesses, has worked to provide access to quality affordable healthcare for all Americans, and he has worked across the aisle to get things done. He is a proven leader with a skill set and a passion for this state that we need back in the Blaine House.”

Shenna Bellows

Shenna Bellows, a Democrat seeking the nomination to run against Sen. Susan Collins for United States Senate, applauded Michaud. “Mike Michaud continues to demonstrate the type of courage and leadership we need in the Blaine House and in Washington,” Bellows said in a statement. “By speaking out honestly, Mike Michaud shows strength as a leader and a statesman.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis

Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., one of the seven “out” members of the U.S. House tweeted Monday morning, “Congratulations to my colleague @RepMikeMichaud on coming out, living honestly; he becomes 7th openly #lgbt Representative now in House.” He then tweeted, “My #gaydar missed it, but happy to welcome @RepMikeMichaud to team #lgbt!” 

“Being honest helps Mike Michaud by demonstrating a level of integrity rare in public figures,” Polis said in a statement to the Bangor Daily News.

“With this off his shoulders, he can now be even more effective in his dedication to improving Maine schools, attracting business and jobs, helping farms and fisheries expand, and improving roads and infrastructure,” Polis said. “Mike Michaud works hard on behalf of our veterans. He has helped honor those who have served our great nation, and Maine is lucky that it now has the opportunity to deploy that same kind of dedication, integrity, and leadership across the entire State.”

Dennis Bailey

Dennis Bailey’s Savvy Blog, which covers public relations issues, looks at the PR angle of a candidate coming out. Bailey says rumors about Michaud’s sexuality are nothing new and writes, “From the day he announced he was giving up his safe seat in Congress to run for governor, political insiders began pondering how his campaign would handle the ‘gay question.’”

In the end, Bailey writes, Michaud “had no real choice but to come out of the closet. And he did it in a carefully controlled announcement that insured that his message, the way he wanted it said, was the primary focus, not some interpretation by reporters or commentators.”

BDN bloggers

Ethan Strimling (Agree to Disagree) said Michaud’s decision to come out “took remarkable courage,” but explains why it was also a politically smart move.

Mike Tipping (The Tipping Point) writes, “It seems almost crass to discuss the political effects of what was a very personal decision by Michaud to share this part of his identity,” and compares public perception of openly gay candidates to that of female, black and Catholic candidates at different points in history.

Rebekah Metzler (Downeast to D.C.) called the announcement a “simple confirmation of a long-held understanding,” and said the candidate can likely expect “a flood of outside money from liberal and pro-gay groups to support his candidacy, as he has the chance to be the first openly gay person to be elected as governor in the country.”

Amy Fried (Pollways) said the timing of Michaud’s announcement was smart. “With whispering campaigns and push-polls underway, the best way to staunch the gossip was to make a direct statement,” Fried writes. “It’s done, a year before the election.”

Jim LaPierre (Recovery Rocks) answers Michaud’s rhetorical question (“Why should it mattter?”) by responding, “I want to live in a world where it doesn’t matter, Mr. Michaud. I want to live in a society in which homophobia is an embarrassing footnote in our nation’s history.”

Michael Campbell (Campbell’s Corner) said he was surprised by the news. Campbell says he’s personally still divided between voting for Michaud or Eliot Cutler, and this likely won’t affect his vote. “Michaud coming out doesn’t make my decision any harder or easier.