Portland Press Herald
Speaking at a news conference in October 2014, near the end of his campaign for governor, independent candidate Eliot Cutler reflected on his imprint in Maine politics and rhetorically asked: “Have we struck a dagger in the heart of negative campaigning? Have we beaten back the politics of fear?” Cutler bowed his head, lamenting that both had returned with a vengeance.
Nearly $20 million was poured into the 2014 gubernatorial race. Perhaps more even more disturbing, spending by outside groups skyrocketed from $3.9 million in the 2010 race to $11.6 million in the 2014 race.
Using the money to assemble a comprehensive, statewide negative advertising campaign, the two major parties demonstrated their built-in advantage to narrow the parameters of policy debate and exacerbate the politics of fear. In effect, these negative ads discouraged a conscience-driven vote for honest campaigns guided by legitimate public policy concerns.
We have learned a hard lesson in the past couple of gubernatorial elections. Now we have a choice. We can condone “politics as usual,” or we can adapt with the times and implement ranked-choice voting.
Ranked-choice voting would restrain the influence of outside special interest money and encourage candidates to focus on Maine values and real issues.
Ranked-choice voting would require that winning candidates have a majority of support – ultimately ending the era of “minority winners” and “spoiler candidates.”
We are all tired of negative campaigning. We are all tired of the politics of fear.
In November 2016, let’s take action.