All three major candidates for governor have received passing marks from the state’s most prominent advocacy group for hunters and outdoorsmen.
Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, or SAM, announced Thursday that it’s not endorsing any candidate for governor, but did assess incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and independent candidate and businessman Eliot Cutler.
All three candidates are members of the Alliance. The group did not rate Lee Schultheis, an independent candidate who qualified for the ballot but says he’s not really running for governor.
The group gave LePage an “A,” giving him the highest grade of the three candidates. SAM wrote that LePage’s grade was based on his answers to a questionnaire and a “lengthy” interview with the group’s board.
SAM cited LePage’s “strong support of the Second Amendment,” support of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s vocal defense of bear-baiting, and responsiveness to the group’s concerns.
The group gave Michaud an “A-” grade, calling him a “long-time supporter of issues important to Maine sportsmen, gun owners and conservationists.”
The group said the only ding against Michaud is his recent support of background checks for private sales of firearms.
“Although this policy change sounds attractive, our organization remains very concerned with the unintended consequences of such a change; including, the creation of a database of all firearm owners, massive expansion of enforcement, monitoring of law-abiding citizens and the cost of such a plan,” the group wrote.
Cutler received a “B.” The group called him a “very intelligent leader with thoughtful and sound policy solutions for many of the issues effecting sportsmen and women,” and lauded his support for policies that strengthen the “Maine brand.”
The group docked him a full letter grade because of his support for a new national park in Northern Maine, a project SAM rejects entirely.
SAM also sent questionnaires to candidates in both congressional districts and the U.S. Senate, though not all candidates responded. You can see the group’s complete score sheet here.