AUGUSTA — With the primaries for Maine’s Democratic and Republican parties now over, the two independent candidates in the race to be the state’s next governor are stepping from the shadows and making their presence known. Alan Caron and Terry Hayes are poised to spend more than $1 million on their campaigns between now and November.
Caron, a Freeport economic development consultant, announced he would spend $250,000 of his own money on television advertising in the weeks ahead so voters will have a complete picture of his life in Maine, including the eight months he spent in prison 48 years ago. Meanwhile, Hayes, the State Treasurer from Buckfield, who is running a publicly financed campaign under the state’s Clean Election Act, said her next disbursement of funds based on matching $5 contributions from donors is expected to exceed $775,000.
She said much of that will be earmarked for advertising – including television, radio online and in social media networks.
Caron, who dropped out of school in ninth grade, said part of the reason behind his new advertising blitz is that he wants voters to know he eventually spent more time earning his master’s degree at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government than he spent at the Windham Correctional Facility. He said the time he spent at Windham helped him refocus his life on helping Maine people improve their economy, an effort he’s pursued for over 25 years now.
“What I did was 48 years ago, people either don’t know or they forget, but the next thing you know, if you don’t tell them, then they say, ‘You are hiding something,’ so I don’t want that to happen,” said Caron, who was charged with receiving stolen goods. “If you are one of those people who never did a dumb thing, never did an illegal thing as a teenager, then you should vote for one of my opponents.”
Caron’s 60-second spot, which is expected to begin airing on television and online this week, mentions his time at the correctional center, but also touts his work with GrowSmartMaine and Envision Maine, two organizations aimed at improving the state’s economy that he founded or headed. Caron also has co-authored books on the state’s economy and government, and said Thursday that his campaign’s focus is on building the state’s economy for the 21st century.
Caron, like most independents, said Maine’s two dominant political parties are to blame for the gridlock in state government and are just recycling the same ideas that have left them in gridlock for years.
“The two political parties have just concluded their primaries,” Caron said. “What we heard were the same ideas we’ve heard for decades, and the same promises that neither party is capable of delivering. The two parties can’t even hear each other any more, much less work together. Their greatest skill seems to be in blocking the other party from doing anything.”
Hayes was in Ohio on Thursday attending a program sponsored by the National Institute on Civil Discourse, which she serves as one of three co-chairpersons. She said her campaign will be focused on a positive message of how she would govern. She said while the media attention in Maine, so far, has largely focused on the Democratic and Republican primaries, she expects there will be more attention given to the independent candidates in the race like herself and Caron in the weeks ahead.
“I’ve been at this (campaigning) for more than a year now and I’m having fun, it’s energizing and we were very active on primary day this week,” said Hayes. She noted her campaign staff and volunteers spread out to 22 different polling places and were able to collect $5 matching donations from 750 donors.
“It’s nice to have the primaries behind us so voters will know what the slate will look like and we are almost there,” Hayes said.
Caron and Hayes will both be on the ballot in November beside Republican Shawn Moody and a Democratic candidate who has yet to be determined as ballots in the primary race are still being retabulated under Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Both Hayes and Caron said that although their campaigns may not have been getting the much attention from the media lately, they were building momentum and backers.
“People have been talking with us and listening to us, and we have been doing the same,” Hayes said. “We have been having house parties and making a lot of noise.”
Hayes also says her campaign collected more individual donations from Maine people than any other candidate in the race, another indication, she said, that voters want a choice beyond Democrats and Republicans in November.
Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at: