He’s the best hope of Maine Democrats to recapture the Blaine House in 2014 — the only name pundits see as a true contender against an incumbent Republican and a credible independent.
He’s an ex-laborer and a champion of workers, a great fundraiser and campaigner with experience forging compromise in Augusta, a moderate northerner who could run a true statewide campaign.
Mike Michaud is going to run for governor. Incredible.
In Michaud, the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Maine has a champion of veterans in one of the nation’s most veteran-populated districts per capita. With only four seats in Congress, this kind of Beltway clout is rare for the Pine Tree State. He also serves on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which helps dole out the federal highway funds so critical to a rural state with limited local funds.
It sure would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to do better for Maine in Augusta than in Washington. But Michaud does not have to leave his seat in Congress to run, so it’s a no-lose situation for him.
And first, he has to win a three-way (at least) race that pundits say is Gov. LePage’s to lose.
It’s a big challenge that Michaud is taking on. While he’s a known quantity up north, Democrats here in the more liberal south may have a hard time getting comfortable with Michaud’s stated positions on abortion and his membership as a Blue Dog — the waning caucus of conservative congressional Democrats.
As such, Eliot Cutler, the independent from Cape Elizabeth who came within 10,000 votes of the Blaine House in 2010, could well run to his left, creating the Democratic split feared by those who would like to see LePage a one-term governor.
But Cutler’s path is also tricky: He inherited most of his support in 2010 from a late surge of disaffected Democrats when it became apparent Libby Mitchell was not going to defeat LePage. Michaud’s likely candidacy could cement a lot of that lost support.
Put another way, Mike Michaud is not Libby Mitchell.
It’s almost unheard of that a candidate with his clout, position of power in Washington and record of public service would give up a $174,000 job with virtually guaranteed re-election to become the nation’s lowest paid governor in a state starved of revenue.
But with his announcement Thursday, Mike Michaud has shown he and the Maine Democratic Party are serious — and united — in their quest to unseat LePage. His heroic entry creates a fascinating race.
An artful negotiator and longtime public servant with nothing but the public interest in mind, Mike Michaud will make a formidable candidate, and he would no doubt make a very capable governor.