BRUNSWICK (AP) — Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Scott says he got a bit of advice from someone who once held the job: Don’t come to Augusta with too long an agenda.

Long to-do lists often wind up on the Statehouse cutting room floor, so the independent from the small western Maine town of Andover is following the advice of a former governor, whom he declined to name.

The 42-year-old newcomer to statewide politics is facing four better-funded and better-known contenders, but Scott is not short on enthusiasm or passion.

“I’m not naive. I know what I’m up against,” Scott told The Associated Press during a lunchtime break in campaigning last week. “I will not be discouraged or daunted.”

He believes his standing in the race is equal to that of his rivals, based on exposure through candidate forums, debates and news coverage.

Scott’s financing is a small fraction of that available to Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell, Republican Paul LePage and fellow independents Eliot Cutler and Shawn Moody in advance of the Nov. 2 election. But donations are continuing to come in, and he could supplement his treasury with personal assets to help get his name and message out, he said.

So far, Scott has avoided “the consultants, specialists, the bells and whistles” that he says add considerable bulk to campaign budgets.

Scott has never enrolled in a political party and doesn’t come from a politically involved family. He was born in Rumford as the youngest of six siblings. His father was a log inspector at the local paper mill, and his mother was a maternity ward nurse at a hospital.

A 1986 graduate of Mexico High School (now Mountain Valley), Scott earned a degree in government and politics from George Mason University in Virginia in 1990, paying his way through school by taking a variety of jobs. He can’t put his finger exactly on what stoked his interest in politics, but he said his teachers and education played a role.

In 1998, Scott founded a company, Recruiting Resources International, that matches engineers with firms needing their specific skills.

He moved to Andover, a town of about 900 in Oxford County, from Portland with his wife, Susan Merrow. The couple stirred local political waters as they pressed forward with what they saw as needed reforms in the town office, fire department, water district and transfer station.

Scott is chairman of Andover’s water district and a former member of the planning board.

While his critics claim Scott was too pushy and aggressive, Scott dismisses as “a local-versus-newcomer type thing” the disagreements that escalated to formal harassment complaints — now all dismissed.

In the governor’s race, polls so far relegate Scott and fellow independent Moody to single digits. The latest campaign finance reports show he took in just more than $11,000 in receipts, with a cash balance of just over $3,000.

Mitchell, by comparison, had a cash balance of more than $630,000, while LePage had just shy of $260,000 and Cutler nearly $100,000. Mitchell’s is the only campaign funded by the taxpayer-funded Clean Election Act.

Despite the odds, Scott points to the 2006 gubernatorial election turnout figures and calculates that the election can be won this year with 130,000 votes, a total he believes is within his reach. Turnout was 54 percent in the 2006 election.

But a political scientist says Scott has too much to overcome to win.

“The lack of money is a big problem, even in Maine where you can do one-on-one, retail-style politics,” said the University of Maine associate professor Mark Brewer. “The minimum of what’s needed is a quarter million dollars.”

Compounding that is Scott’s lack of name recognition, which he might be able to overcome if he had money, and the fact that he must contend with two other independent candidates, Brewer said.

Scott and his wife have more than $1 million in assets, including forest land property, an apartment rental unit and a couple of properties in Andover, he said. When the time arrives to ratchet up his media advertising, he could rely on some of those assets, he said.

But for now, he portrays his financial standing as a plus, saying it puts him on an equal footing with most Maine voters.

“Who do you want to be your next governor?” Scott asked. “The person who does it on a boatload of money, hiring a boatload of consultants, or the person who’s out there doing it the old school way?”

As governor, he would “remove the celebrity” from the office and seek out the most innovative ideas to create jobs, he said. To keep a lid on what he sees as unaffordable costs of public employment, he would propose offering 32-hour workweeks to state workers who volunteer for them.

He also recently released a financial plan that calls for removing vacant positions from the state books, more hiring of private companies to perform services now performed by the state, creation of a council of businesses that would offer ideas on taxes and regulations, and a complete audit of all state government agencies.

Scott said he’d also set an example for frugality: “I will never accept any (state) pension or health benefits beyond my term.”


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