According to a report at SeacoastOnline.com, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud was not the Maine Democratic Party’s first choice for the governor’s race — independent candidate Eliot Cutler was.
The report, which covers a Cutler campaign event in Kennebunkport, includes the following indirect quote from the candidate:
Cutler went on to say that after the 2010 election, the democratic party had contacted him to ask him to run as a democrat, assuring him they’d “clear the field” for him, but Cutler turned them down because, “that’s a party being run by organized labor.”
As David Sorensen, communications director for the Maine Republican Party, noted on Twitter, the revelation that the Maine Democratic Party would rather have run Cutler causes problems for an organization that has attacked him and desperately wants him out of the race:
Revelation of Cutler as first choice renders any criticisms leveled at him by Dems as completely lacking in credibility. #mepolitics
— David Sorensen (@DSorensenME) July 25, 2014
The revelation also opens the question of whom the movers and shakers in the Maine Democratic Party might also have considered as a challenger to Republican Gov. Paul LePage other than Michaud.
The Maine Wire has reached out to Cutler’s campaign and to the Maine Democratic Party and will provide further details and confirmation when we get them.
UPDATE: As predicted, The Maine Democratic Party is completely denying Cutler’s comment. Chairman Ben Grant issued the following statement to the Portland Press Herald: “I never considered him a viable candidate. I think his success in 2010 was a complete accident, and not only that, he’s not a Democrat. He doesn’t believe in enough things that the Democratic party does and he spent a good deal of time in 2010 bashing the Democratic party. That’s not somebody I’m intreresting (sic) in recruiting to run for governor.”
— Steve Robinson (@Stevie_Rob) July 25, 2014
UPDATE: Cutler’s campaign is firing back with supporting evidence for the candidate’s claim. Cutler’s Communications Director Crystal Canney said in an email that the offer came during a May 31, 2011 meeting at The Salt Exchange, in Portland.
“Meeting was to talk about: 2010 flyers, Libby’s collapse, people who put together the negative flyers and talk about misgivings Eliot had about the democratic party,” Canney said. “It was after walking out of the restaurant and across the street – that Eliot recalls very clearly that Ben Grant said: ‘Why don’t you run as a democrat, we will clear the field.'”
“Eliot firmly recalls he said: I said no I don’t want to govern as a democrat,” she said. “In my conversation with Eliot today he said he would sign an affidavit to that content of the conversation.”
Canney provided the following screenshot of a May 25, 2011 email between Democratic Party staffers and Kaitlin LaCasse setting up the meeting. LaCasse was at the time working for One Maine and is now working for Cutler’s campaign.