In an interview with NBC’s chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler answered, once again, the ‘spoiler’ question.
Democrats have attempted to paint a vote for Cutler as a vote for incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Some Republican pundits have even gone so far as to tell party activists to drum up support for Cutler, as an effort to divide the race and ensure a LePage victory.
As usual, Cutler wasn’t having it.
“I’m not a spoiler, I’m a choice,” he said.
Cutler went on to describe independents’ relatively strong showing in Maine gubernatorial elections. In the past 40 years, he said, Maine has held 10 elections for governor. In three of those elections, the independent candidate won: Jim Longley in 1974 and Angus King in 1994 and 1998.
(Interestingly, both Longley and King were lifelong Democrats before running for governor. Cutler previously was a Democrat as well.)
Todd asked Cutler whether it would be difficult, as an independent, to govern a state government dominated by the two major parties. “Running as an independent is easy, governing as an independent is hard,” Todd said.
Replied Cutler: “Most legislators in Maine are looking for leadership from the middle. They’d like to succeed, they’d like to get things done. We’ve had 11 straight years of economic decline in the state, made against the rest of New England. We have huge potential, but we have big challenges. Legislators will respond to bold leadership. I don’t have any question about it.”
Cutler also reiterated his tax plan — lower property taxes by a marginal increase in the state’s sales tax — and his support of Common Core standards.
He also had harsh words for both the governor (“LePage is going to be shown the door, there’s no question about that.”) and his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who he said has demonstrated an “extreme reliance on special interest PAC money.”
Cutler has pledged not to take any money from political action committees. It’s a luxury he’s able to afford — as of June 10, he’s loaned his campaign about half a million dollars from his own pockets. That amount of cash is probably in the ballpark of Michaud’s entire net worth.