Politics and Other Mistakes

She's smart, honest, and running for Governor. What's not to love?
By AL DIAMON  |  January 5, 2006

I think I’m in love.

Not like I’m in love with my wife. Or my dogs. Or beer.

It’s more of a conceptual thing, like how I’d love to have a plasma TV with a screen the size of Aroostook County and surround sound capable of stunning passing moose.

But the TV was last year’s unrequited love. I’m over it. A little sadder. A little wiser.

This year, I’ve fallen for the concept of a gubernatorial candidate who’s honest, smart, and courageous enough to challenge both the left and right. Somebody with real solutions. It also wouldn’t hurt if this person owned a plasma TV and invited me over to watch the Super Bowl.

I’m looking for a candidate who’ll say this: "[W]e are all paying far too much for a dysfunctional state government." And this: "[W]e are only offered choices between Democratic leaders who advocate more of the same and the Republicans who want less of the same." And this: "We are told over and over by our current leaders that our natural inclination to spend only what we have, protect our environment, support local schools, save our local hospitals, and fight for local control of our communities must be tempered for the sake of our economic future. I believe that just the opposite is true: that our economic future is tied directly to clean air, clean and abundant water, excellent schools, good health care, and strong local communities where local voters, not state government, [call] the shots."

I may have found that candidate. These quotes come from a new book by state representative Barbara Merrill of Appleton titled "Setting the Maine Course: We Can Get There From Here." (Oddly enough, the book is dedicated to me, although I don’t know the author, and my name is spelled wrong.) Merrill is a lawyer and ex-lobbyist, who was elected to the Legislature in 2004 as a Democrat, but became an independent late last year in preparation for a run for governor. Last session, she won praise from rural Mainers for fighting attempts to close small-town schools and the enmity of Governor John Baldacci for voting against his phony property-tax relief bill and his deficit-riddled budget.

Her book is full of common sense. She says we can’t boost our economy by offering tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, while allowing traditional industries, such as boat building, to wither. "[W]e don’t need all that much," she writes. "We are a small state looking for a few thousand more good jobs."

To create them, she’d eliminate the corporate income tax and property tax on business equipment. But she’d also end tax breaks, like Baldacci’s Pine Tree Zones, that give some companies an unfair advantage. The result, she says, would turn Maine into the "Free Enterprise State."

Merrill promises to reduce state regulations by over 50 percent, although she wouldn’t weaken rules that protect air and water. She’d also make the Land For Maine’s Future program self-sustaining by allowing it to issue its own bonds.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: News Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Election Campaigns,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY AL DIAMON
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TAKE THE GAMBLE  |  September 19, 2014
    Governments need stuff to regulate. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need governments.  
  •   THE E.C. PLAN  |  September 12, 2014
    Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has proposed a much-needed change in the way Maine chooses its governor. Under the Cutler plan, the only people allowed to run would be those with the initials E.C.  
  •   PIMPING AND PANDERING  |  September 03, 2014
    And so, the excitement of the fall political campaigns begins.  
  •   BEAR WITH ME  |  August 31, 2014
    It’s the fall of 2015. A bear walks into a doughnut shop in Portland and says, “Give me two dozen assorted to go.”  
  •   LOOK OUT, CLEVELAND  |  August 21, 2014
    Eric Brakey is an energetic guy. But as an admirer of sloth, I have intense disdain for the excessively active.  

 See all articles by: AL DIAMON