Candidates endure nasty surprises on the campaign trail

Candidates for statewide office never know what will come back to haunt them, and the race for Maine governor has already been full of "gotcha" moments.

For gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell, it became a party photo showing the laughing candidate holding a plaque with a sticker identifying former President George W. Bush as an "international terrorist."

Republican opponent Paul LePage came to a Monday night debate in Bangor with that gem in his pocket.

During the debate, Mitchell said a governor must be respectful of a sitting U.S. president. It was a clear reference to a video that surfaced of LePage telling a group of fishermen he would tell President Barack Obama to "go to hell."

LePage was ready, announcing he had a photo showing Mitchell laughing at the "International Terrorist" president.

At first Mitchell denied knowing what he was talking about. But the LePage campaign produced the photo, apparently refreshing her memory.

Oh, brother.

Of course, LePage had his own problems early in the campaign when it was revealed that his wife had taken a homestead property tax exemption in both Florida and Maine.

It wasn't the finest moment for the Republican's campaign.

Skill behind the wheel, or lack thereof, has come back to haunt a couple of candidates.

Second District congressional candidate Jason Levesque had his driver's license suspended for 30 days last week after three convictions over the past 11 months.

Two of the violations occurred just a day apart last month, adding a quick 12 points to the four he had on his license

Levesque took it all in stride: "Obviously, I'm not a great driver," he told the Sun Journal. "That's not what this race is about."

Of course it's not. But still ...

Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Scott is in an entirely different category of bad driver. The youngest person in the governor's race has been convicted of 35 motor vehicle violations and has had his license suspended 21 times.

We'll see what voters make of that on Election Day.

First District congressional candidate Chellie Pingree's troubles have also been transportation-related, but of the high-flying variety.

Pingree has received heat for traveling aboard a $25 million luxury jet owned by her fiance, Donald Sussman.

Sussman is a very wealthy New York hedge fund manager who has bankrolled some environmental causes and candidates in Maine.

Pingree had previously taken other lawmakers to task for flying in jets supplied by corporations and lobbyists. She says, however, that House ethics regulators had OK'd the flights, classifying Sussman as a relative.

Perhaps more damaging Wednesday were revelations that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank flew to the Virgin Islands aboard Sussman's jet.

Frank chairs the House Financial Services Committee. Sussman's firm, meanwhile, manages more than $1.7 billion in funds.

Barney Frank calls the charges of conflict "nonsense," claiming he's never done favors for the hedge-fund industry.

As a hedge-fund manager, Sussman represents everything ordinary Americans — the ones losing their homes and jobs — have come to resent about Wall Street and taxpayer bailouts.

While the homespun Pingree remains popular in Maine, voters are in an anti-elitist, anti-Wall Street, anti-incumbent mood, and the Sussman controversies certainly don't help.

So, plenty of surprises on the campaign trail, but no knockout punches yet.

But there are two weeks to go.

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 's picture


Scott is not in an entirely different category of bad driver than Levesque unless you completely ignore the fact that Levesque had accrued almost as many violations.

Levesque has had 18 violations and 3 suspension in all.

That's habitual offender territory!

 's picture

It is interesting that the

It is interesting that the editorial board does not include it's own group never mind fellow media colleagues in this discussion. Am I right, in that most newspaper businesses are union shops? Emphasis, tone, intent. Even with the recent evaluation of Education, the shorting of retirement funds etc., the frameworkof the discussion of difficulties we have in this state is still framed by LSJ and other outlets. More importantly, you write what you perceive the candidates responses are, rather than what is actually said. The issue is not a gotcha thing, because it was started by disrespectful questions by the media and went viral at the behest of the media. . Maybe you just want me to buy more papers. I was very disappointed that Mayor LePage decided to flaunt (sp) Mrs Mitchell's laughing at that picture. I didn't think he would join in this juvenile behavior that has been directed towards him. Although I have to admit he must be frustrated. I am not going to demonize anyone based on this publication or any others, however I Do appreciate this forum provided by LSJ. Thanks.
Libby Mitchell is a very great lady. She believes in what she is doing and has done. She knows Augusta inside and out, and because her party has been dominant, she could know how to pass legislation that would be meaningfull. However, her solutions may be in tandem with our current president. She may start commissions and study groups, or real smart people to examine the problems. An encounter group. Because the problems she was part of causing are soooo complicated (deliberately) that only real smart people would understand. We'd end up having more layers of government at considerable expense that we can't afford.
I am a great admirer of Paul LePage simply because he is an overcomer. The path in his life has been tough. But he did it. However, his style may not work in State government, or it could work if we had ten year terms for Governor. At the same time he is stubborn, he knows how to trim budgets to make things work, and he is cognizant that we who DO work are supporting all those who aren't working. He is tough and principled enough to HALT state government if he disagrees with the opposition party and compassionate enough to provide a path to those who depend on it. Again, I am disappointed that he participated in the media driven juvenile antics. Sorry LSJ.
I don't want to speek about Eliot Cutler.....he is a self driven sycophant.
Shawn Moody is new to this, from personal experience (with him in a business environment) he is with out a doubt, has the most integrity of all the candidates. Too bad he does not have the name recognition.
Kevin Scott is a walking plethora of incredible ideas. That are usually accurate, sometimes poorly executed. He really stirred things up in his home town, incurring a misdirected wrath from his neighbors. The best thing about him, is his wife Susan who is a great anchor.
The reality is, without some painfull decisions, we are heading towards California, awash in a sea of debt, broken promises, bankruptcy.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Lucky for you I'm in a good

Lucky for you I'm in a good mood.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Work ethic does not always

Work ethic does not always correlate to getting things done. We both know people who work their asses off and get nowhere in life. It's not how hard you work, but how smart you work. Libby's work ethic has made her a career politician; exactly what Maine no longer needs.

Mark Elliott's picture

WS you show your lack of

WS you show your lack of intelligence each and every time you speak up! You never disappoint us! bravo!!

 's picture


Although this is not illegal, I noticed a Democrat running for State Senate area 92 going through the recycling bin at the Rumford Post Office to see who had thrown out his fliers he had recently mailed, he took them with him and left so he can see who the individuals were that had thrown their fliers away. Pretty unethical!!!

RONALD RIML's picture


I noticed that when I clicked on you profile you obviously didn't register here with your actual name. Although not against the 'SJ' rules and regulations - "Pretty unethical!!!"


Mark Elliott's picture

Here's a nasty surprise you failed to mention....

Congratulations to Gov John Baldacci and 36 year incumbent and Gov wannabee, Libby Mitchell, for putting Maine at NUMBER 50 - DEAD LAST - on Forbes list of the best states for business and careers. ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION YET ???? (I had to mention that being at 50 was dead last for those Dems who think there are 57 states.)

Quality of life we came in at 16. Utah was Number 1. They are ranked 18 on quality of life. You can have a good business climate AND have good quality of life. They are not mutually exclusive!!!

When businesses decide to grow and expand, Maine rarely, if ever, even makes their short list. Hence, fewer and fewer good jobs, and our children continue to leave the state for work.

Maine is the "oldest" state in the U.S...... having the highest median age of any other state. Vermont is #2 and is politically structured similarly to Maine. Florida is #5. The 6 New England states are ALL in the top 11.

Here in Maine, if you promote a better business climate, then you are an advocate for dirty air and water. When I see other states, who rely on their wonderful outdoor environment for tourism having tremendous success in attracting and keeping businesses, it becomes so obvious that Maine is on the wrong path

read it yourself here -->>

RONALD RIML's picture

Ah yes... Maine is the oldest State. What could this mean?

A 'business' has grown and expanded here, one that you fail to recognize nor appreciate.

Maine is a 'Destination Home' for many out of state retirees. We inject the proceeds of our savings, businesses, and retirement plans earned in other States (and often tax exempt there as mine was) into the Maine economy, but then taxed in Maine. But it's worth it. Maine is a fabulous place to live. We buy Maine homes that have been left to decay and restore them to their former splendor; upon which we pay property taxes to send Maine's children to school as others paid property taxes to send us to school back in our home states many years ago. We employ Mainers to fix our cars, reroof our homes, and a scad of other things. We shop in Maine stores and support Maine businesses. We volunteer for Maine Churches and Charities. Though never 'Natives' but always "PFA's" we are not the ones who sold our birthright, but reached to rescue yours as others fled this beautiful, but hard living land.

The 'Greying' of Maine also equates to the "Greening" of Maine - and don't forget it.......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated, Veritas.

Well stated, Veritas.

RONALD RIML's picture

There you go 'Ass'-uming P.S. - I'm not rich.

P.S. - I'm not rich. But I do have a bike that I bought at Beans (made, I believe in China) - and a Kayak. The fellow who lives next door 'used to' make bicycles in Maine, with a plant in Van Buren. Highest quality. Taiwanese (who'se azzes we protected against the Chinese across the Quemoy straits for decades) forced him out of business - no good deed goes unpunished.

You ask if I could have got the same in Maine that I got elsewhere? That's not the point and I'm not going to accept the guilt trip you're trying to lay on my azz. The point is that we retirees come up here - make damn few demands upon Maine's economy - but contribute greatly to it. You've been dealt a rough hand with an environment, infrastructure needs that require high costs for energy and transportation, and georaphical remoteness - and these greatly impact both the cost of doing business here and your ability to attract business.

PS - The 'Young' always want to get up and move away. Folks have been complaining about that for millenia, in every location there is.

You are obviously part of Maine's problem. You obviously are not aware of the markets out there, and you are not the only 'little slice of heaven' in the world.

Mark Elliott's picture

I understand your point, but

I understand your point, but people are leaving faster than they are coming in and in all honesty, I don't want to depend on your money, I want to make my own so I can retire JUST LIKE YOU! This state can not survive on retirees alone. There is no excuse for our government to abandon the people that built this state by making it tough for us to be successful here. Manufacturers do NOT want to come here and many have left. Sooner or later, it WILL affect even the retirees that now make this home.

Mark Elliott's picture

But still what????

"Levesque took it all in stride: "Obviously, I'm not a great driver," he told the Sun Journal. "That's not what this race is about."

Of course it's not. But still ..."

I really hate that expression, "but still...." It really shows that the person using it has NO IDEA how to defend their position! Levesque made a very legitimate comment about the reference to his driving record and the writer strengthened it by saying 'Of course it's not." then follows with "But still...." Ok Mr Editor, but still what??? We are waiting! But still what??????? Let me help you, "But still......we are a liberal paper and simply will not leave a comment in favor of the conservative untouched in some negative way!"


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