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Governor’s Address: There Are Important Issues to Consider Before Going to the Polls

Each June, Maine voters go to the polls to elect local officials and vote on school budgets. The addition of the gubernatorial and congressional primaries, as well as the referendum question on ranked choice voting, makes Tuesday an important day for every voter, not just those enrolled in a party.

I urge all voters to let their voices be heard on June 12. As you head to the polls, there are several important issues I encourage you to consider.

First, I would like to talk to you about clean elections funding.

When I ran for Governor in 2010, I had the least amount of money of any of the other candidates in the Republican primary – but I did have a message.

The amount of money my opponents had did not have any bearing on the final standings. I won because I had a message that resonated with voters.

If you have a strong message, you do not need the taxpayers to fund your campaign for Governor.

Proponents of clean elections funding say that it levels the playing field for candidates who otherwise would be unable to get their message out.

If you have a strong enough message, it will get out. It takes hard work, consistency, and commitment, but it gets out.

Clean elections supporters also argue that taxpayer funding prevents candidates from being “bought off” by special interests or big donors.

If a candidate has personal integrity, he or she will not be bought-off by individual donors.

If you want to be Governor, you will need to stand up, not only to big donors, but to all the special interests lining the halls of the State House.

Believe me, until they ban PACs, unions, and lobbyists with their big money from out-of-state donors, money will never get out of politics. Clean elections funding doesn’t touch these sources of cash at all.

All we can do is vote for the candidate who will do the right thing even when it is hard. Vote for the person who will put good policy above politics.

Another issue to consider is Ranked Choice Voting.

This system tries to ensure that office-holders are elected with a majority, meaning 50-percent-plus-one-vote, in races with three or more candidates.

Ranked Choice Voting works on the assumption that there is something special about being elected with a majority, rather than a plurality.

The greatest president we’ve had in our nation’s history, Abraham Lincoln, was elected with less than 40 percent of the popular vote in a four-way race in 1860. I think that plurality worked out just fine.

A plurality of votes is sufficient. Ranked Choice Voting overcomplicates a simple process: one person, one vote.

Here’s where these two issues come together: progressives pushed clean elections to get more candidates on the ballot. They succeeded.

Now, they argue that we need Ranked Choice Voting to deal with all the candidates because no one is getting elected with a majority.

Here’s an idea. If we got rid of clean elections, we would have fewer candidates, but only those whose messages resonate with the public. With fewer candidates, there would be a greater chance of a single candidate winning with a majority, if you believe that is important.

If the voters do want a winner with a majority, rather than use a complicated mathematical algorithm, we could amend the Constitution to allow a runoff election.

No matter the method, I believe the important thing is that we elect people of integrity to public office, period.

Thank you.

Paul LePage


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