Intentionally Unreasonable: Please, Eliot, 'don't be a Cutler'

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Dear Eliot,

I am writing to you with a personal plea: Please publicly announce your withdrawal from the governor’s race on Friday, Oct. 17.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you endorse or support either Gov. Paul LePage or U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, just that you recognize the futility (and basic math) of your own pursuit of Blaine House residency.

You can make a statement along the lines of, “My love for our great state exceeds any personal interests or ambitions, and what is obvious to me now is that it would be best for Maine voters to have a clear gubernatorial choice between our incumbent Gov. LePage and Congressman Michaud. Although my name will still be on the ballot, I’m urging all of my supporters to vote for one of the other two candidates.”

Make that statement on Friday, Oct. 17, and a number of things will happen:

1 — Maine will elect a governor on Nov. 4, during this critical period in our state’s history, based upon majority rule and not “39 percent is close enough.”

If LePage wins with a clear majority, then let the healing begin, and let our state Legislature go into the new session with a people’s mandate to work with LePage going forward.

If Michaud wins (disclosure: my enthusiastic preference), then let’s turn the (Le)page on past political crimes and misdemeanors and get on with the important business of Maine’s governance.

2 — Regardless of who wins on Nov. 4, the name “Eliot” will forever be etched in the minds and history books of all Mainers as being synonymous with supreme selfless acts of honor and commitment to the great state of Maine. Good deeds will be referred to as performing an “Eliot.” Who knows, the town of Eliot might even give itself to you as a municipal keepsake. (You get the point, lots of people would be grateful.)

3 — To celebrate your selfless act, I will personally donate $50,000 to the Maine-based charity of your choice on Nov. 4. (It can’t be the Eliot Cutler vacation fund; 501c3 organizations only.)

That’s it.

One selfless act from you and, Maine gets the governor that we deserve; you carry on with the rest of your life, basking in the glow of political benevolence, and some worthwhile local charity gets $50,000 to help a significant number of Mainers.

Win, win and win.

The alternative? You spend the next three weeks in a futile and increasingly desperate attempt to defy math, party politics, and the painful reality that your powerful intellect is no match for Michaud’s honorable niceness, and/or LePage’s bitter rhetoric.

I realize the path that I’m suggesting comes with a fair measure of personal pain and discomfort to you, and I recognize the human impulse to ignore and defer those sensations for as long as possible. I’ve been there. Endless days, sleepless nights, and the constant pressure of family sacrifice are just a few of the burdens that come attached to epic dreams and audacious personal ambitions.

But please, take a moment to listen to your better angels. While I believe in your genuine affection for Maine and the nobility of your purpose as a gubernatorial candidate, to continue your campaign beyond Oct. 17 risks the following;

1 — Maine elects LePage to another term as our governor, commander-in-chief, CEO and global spokesperson. Re-read that last sentence and think about it a bit. Crazy, right?

2 — If LePage is reelected, your legacy goes from political footnote, to a book-series that libraries will catalogue in the horror section, detailing the long-term negative impact from eight years of divisive non-leadership. The name “Cutler” will go down in Maine history as the new metaphor for reckless political ego. “Don’t be a Cutler” will be a thing.

You’ve defended your candidacy as serving a greater good for our entire political process in Maine by allowing for your independent voice to be heard – and I agree in that same principle, rooted in democratic engagement.

You often refer to the electoral paradigm from 2010 as being evidence that you’re a ninth-inning hitter who should stay in the game to the very end – and I agree with the argument that you paid the price of admission (signatures and dollars) to be on the ballot and that it’s your right to stay in the race until the bitter end.

You have a well-earned reputation as being the thinking person’s politician – Maine’s reigning Mensa champion, foreign trade expert and legal wonk of the highest order.

But, all of those facts are small and inconsequential compared to this simple truth: If you wait until Nov. 4 at 11 pm to admit political defeat in a ballroom of over-inflated balloons and super-deflated staffers, irreparable harm may come to the state that you love. Harm, pain and suffering that you, and only you, are in a position to prevent.

I wish that I had greater faith in the wisdom of Maine’s electorate to spare you from this decision and the inevitable negative consequence from any choice you make. But I don’t.

Now is your moment in time to be a true leader, the selfless leader that Maine desperately needs.

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Steve Woods is from away, but fully here now, living in Yarmouth, working in Falmouth, traveling the world, and trying his best. His column appears every other week.

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