I intend to use this blog as a tool in deciding whether I want to support Ms. Merrill's run for the Blaine House.
Based on her bio on "BarbaraMerrill.com" her political experience includes her work as an attorney representing nonprofit organizations and businesses before the State Legislature. A quote by her reflecting that experience, "The growing fiscal irresponsibility of state government, the increased partisanship and the destructive synergy between them" is very much in keeping with this writer's feelings expressed in "A Representative Government" just last week. In 2004 she ran for the State Legislature as a Democrat in a mostly-Republican district, taking 60% of the vote.
As an attorney she was honored by the Bar Association for her pro bono work. Reflective of the work ethic of the people of Maine, she quips, "If I was a little better gardener, I might never have found myself up to my elbows in state government. At least if you garden in Maine, you learn how to deal with adversity."
A very intriguing quote from her candidacy announcement at the Charles Butler Army Reserve Center (named in honor of her father who was killed in Viet Nam), "We need leaders with the courage to trust the voters with the whole truth and we need leaders with the courage to offer a new independent Maine vision." From that very same announcement in regard to the gender factor and that no woman independent has ever been elected in any state, "As Maine's first woman Governor I will be held to a higher standard and I welcome it. Not as a fancy that I can be perfect, but as inspiration to seek the very best people to serve beside me without regard to party affiliation or whether their star may shine brighter than my own. I will set a higher standard not in the conceit that best and brightest will transform Maine, but in the humble understanding that if we can transform state government into a useful tool, Maine people will be enabled to do what needs to be done to secure a bright future for the state we all call home."
She has also penned a book entitled Setting the Maine Course, which can be downloaded from her website.
At first blush these are my thoughts on her candidacy: Having worked as a lobbyist sends up red flags in this day in age, though a more thorough analysis of the work she did as a lobbyist and her position on lobbying would be in order. Certainly having been a lobbyist does not disqualify someone from political office, but we want to ensure we elect someone who will represent the citizens of Maine first and foremost.
Can a woman successfully govern this state? I certainly see no reason why not. This really never should be an issue. The larger questions would more likely be: Can an independent governor succeed? Absolutely, this state has had two two-term independent governors. Would the people of Maine elect a woman governor? Based on the legacies of Margaret Chase Smith (this writer interned at the MCS Library) and Olympia Snowe, they certainly would.
Is her relative lack of experience a positive or negative? That would certainly depend upon your perspective. My position is that I would take fresh ideas, which this candidate seems to have plenty of, over someone with connections but no idea what to do any different than anyone else.
At first blush, based on her philosophy and approach to government, this is someone I could support. Obviously a look into her voting record and her views on more substantive legislative issues would be in order, something I plan to do in my next blog, as well as a review of her book.
Maine Merrill legislature Blaine House governor women