Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud gained an endorsement to become Maine’s next governor Monday from the Maine State Troopers Association, which represents approximately 280 troopers, detectives and sergeants from the Maine State Police.
While most people agree that labor union endorsements often go to Democrats, this one is more interesting because the MSTA has a history of doling out its support among both major parties. The association endorsed Republican Peter Cianchette in 2002, former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci in 2006 and chose to endorse no one in the 2010 governor’s race. The union has also supported Republican Sen. Susan Collins in the past.
Trooper Aaron Turcotte, interim president of the association, said during an event Monday in Augusta that neither of Michaud’s chief opponents — Republican Gov. Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler — had sought the union’s support and that the organization’s executive committee decided against LePage because he had frozen contracted merit and longevity pay increases during his first term. The Legislature managed to fund the pay increases through the end of the biennium through a supplemental budget bill that was enacted late in the legislative session despite LePage’s veto.
“For the past six years our members’ merit and longevity pay has been frozen,” said Turcotte. “Merit and longevity have been bargained in good faith by the State of Maine and the Maine state troopers deserve a governor they can trust and a governor who will live up to the promises made to us by the state of Maine.”
Turcotte said the endorsement is the result of a unanimous vote by the union’s board, but not a vote of the entire membership.
Michaud said he would make honoring union contracts a priority if elected.
“As governor I will commit to you that I will make sure that what you are owed, you receive,” said Michaud.
Brent Littlefield, the chief political strategist for the LePage campaign, said in a prepared statement that Michaud would be beholden to unions as governor.
“Let’s make one thing clear: if you elect Michael Michaud, decisions will not be made in the Blaine House,” wrote Littlefield. “They will be made behind closed doors in the big labor union bosses’ offices in Washington, D.C., where they are pulling the strings.”
Cutler spokeswoman Crystal Canney took on a more measured tone.
“Eliot has the greatest respect for the Maine state troopers and regardless of who they endorse, he looks forward to working with them as governor,” said Canney.