PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - With Labor Day now behind us, candidates in the race for Maine Governor typically start kicking their campaigns into a higher gear.
But in today’s political climate, conventional wisdom does not always play out. On both the Republican and Democratic side there are several possible candidates who have still not decided whether or not to jump into the race. Only one Republican is officially in, while seven Democrats have declared.
One possible candidate is expected to make it official tomorrow, when Senate Majority leader Garrett Mason joins Mary Mayhew on the GOP ballot. Meanwhile, another possible candidate on the Democratic side, former Governor John Baldacci, told NEWS CENTER he will not run.
Ron Schmidt, an associate Professor of Political Science at USM, says by now we would typically have a pretty good idea of who’s in and who’s out in the race for Maine Governor. But that’s not the case.
“Despite the fact that Labor Day has gone by, a lot of this is still sort of cloak room stuff. It could be months before we see any real narrowing of the fields”, he said.
One thing that would narrow both fields is a decision by Senator Susan Collins on whether or not she will run.
“Senator Collins is a big figure in the state, not just among conservatives and Republicans”, Schmidt said.
Seven Democrats are officially in, including Attorney General Janet Mills and former Speaker of the House Mark Eves. There are at least five others mentioned as possibilities. Schmidt says now is the time the top candidates start seeking outside money and those not in yet may miss out.
“There might be some idea to let some skirmishing take place and then move in a little bit later. But that’s a risky proposition. There’s only so much money to go around”, he said.
In the coming weeks new names could start popping up as well, including some who could really shake up the race.
“Eliot Cutler resigned from USM’s Graduate Center last week, which has raised some rumors that he might be thinking about another race. It’s going to be a wild ride”, Schmidt said.
When Cutler ran as an independent in 2010 and 2014, many feel he took away votes from the Democratic candidates, effectively splitting the vote, and helping republican Paul LePage win both times.
Former Lewiston and Auburn Mayor John Jenkins is also mulling a run as an Independent.