Sen. John Nutting of Leeds is a successful farmer, an accomplished lawmaker and a very, very sore loser.
In office since 1986, he was among a slew of Democrats who lost their legislative seats during last week’s election as citizens exercised their free choice to support fiscal conservatives. Just because Nutting lost doesn’t mean he has to be ugly about it.
Especially since Nutting’s opponent, Garrett Mason, didn’t eke out an accidental win. He received 56 percent of the count to Nutting’s 44 percent, which is a decidedly triumphant result.
But, instead of accepting the loss with dignity, Nutting slammed Mason for such alleged crimes as “working retail,” and “living with his parents,” supporting vouchers for private schools and expressing Christian beliefs.
Mason is a young Republican who is proud of being “unabashedly pro-life.” He also wants Maine to pay down its debt. He wants to eliminate DirigoHealth and use Maine’s health dollars more wisely. He wants to streamline the permitting process for businesses and find some way to keep Maine’s youth in Maine.
He sought election to the District 17 seat because “I want to live and raise a family here in Maine. Maine is at a crossroads. We can either continue down the path of unsustainable debt, endless government regulation and outrageous taxes, or we can choose common sense solutions that will encourage the youth of Maine to stay.”
And, based on that campaign, Mason won the Senate seat.
The reason Mason works retail and lives with his parents in Lisbon is because, when he returned to Maine after graduating from college, he couldn’t find a job and — thus — can’t afford his own apartment. In that regard, he is like too many 25-year-old Mainers.
“And,” Mason said, “that’s really why I ran. Because I wanted … to stop my friends, the people I went to high school with and the people I know, I wanted to stop them from driving across the Kittery bridge” in search of work. He believes with real conviction that his voice in Augusta will make a difference, and voters agreed.
Nutting’s nasty response to his loss is so curious because the senator’s accomplishments in the Maine Legislature are substantial and he has much to be proud of. He has consistently been a leader in fighting to regulate pollution in the Androscoggin River, and has been devoted to serving Maine’s mentally ill and supporting our schools. His record on the environment is solid and he’s long been a champion of agricultural causes.
That said, this accomplished man has belittled himself and his record by his post-election remarks.
And, as Mason so ably noted, Nutting served “with distinction for the past 16 years, but it’s such a shame to end a political career with character assassination. It’s sad.”
In his remarks, including strangely snide “thanks” to his supporters, Nutting missed the important point that he didn’t win because an overwhelming number of his constituents didn’t think he was doing the job and they choose someone else. That’s how elections work, and life goes on.
Mason earned his votes, and we wish him good luck in accomplishing his goals.
If he sincerely wants to thank his supporters, Nutting, who knows the ropes in Augusta, would do better to give Mason a helping hand instead of slapping him around.
It would be the neighborly thing to do to accomplish what we all want, which is to make Maine work.
Editor's note: This editorial has been corrected to reflect correct voting percentages in the Nutting-Mason race.