This Tuesday, many Bowdoin students will head to the polls to help Maine elect a new governor. The latest independent poll suggests that what had been a two-person battle between Democrat Libby Mitchell and Republican Paul LePage is now a bona fide three-way race, with Independent Eliot Cutler making significant late gains. This competition is far from decided, which makes our votes all the more important.
Last year, Bowdoin students came out in droves to support marriage equality in Maine, voting "no on 1" in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to preserve the gay marriage law. In 2008, students rallied on the Quad and marched down Maine Street upon President Barack Obama's election to office, celebrating his message of change. Paul LePage's views on today's most important social issues are in complete opposition with our campus' calls for marriage equality and a woman's right to choose. We have been firm about what we believe in and on Tuesday we must continue to be.
Environmentally conscious students should be worried about the prospect of a LePage victory. He opposes the existence of the Environmental Protection Agency and has argued that environmental legislation has "no purpose except to cost business money." Despite the recent crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, LePage has stated that he supports drilling for oil off Maine's coast; one wonders if he has considered what an oil spill, even a small one, might mean for our venerable lobster industry. And perhaps the most intriguing thing LePage has said is that he would like to see a nuclear power plant built in Brunswick. Just imagine the research opportunities for the physics department.
LePage has proven to be a loose cannon during his campaign, and, if elected governor, we have to assume that he will continue to be. LePage seems to embrace his sensationalism, announcing at a campaign event recently that "as your governor you're going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, 'Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.'" We doubt LePage has the ability to build the consensus necessary to make the hard economic choices facing Maine, a state currently $1 billion in debt.
His antics have even drawn negative reaction from the Bowdoin College Republicans; the group has in fact declined to support the LePage campaign. We concur with the College Republicans. Despite national frustration with the Democratic majority, we ought not to entrust Maine to an extremist with a temperament to match.
The act of not voting for LePage may be the easier decision facing voters in the gubernatorial election. In a three-way race that is coming down to the wire, we need to use our votes wisely to ensure they do not go to waste on a third-place candidate: There is considerable risk that Mitchell and Cutler will split the liberal and moderate vote and usher LePage into office.
While Mitchell has led for most of the campaign, Cutler has made a late charge and looks poised to pass her. Students need to be proactive in informing themselves, not only of candidates' positions on the issues, but also of where each of them stands in the polls right up until Election Day. If LePage is to be defeated, it will be by either Mitchell or Cutler, not by both of them. Before filling out our ballots, we should take into consideration which of these candidates is more likely to beat LePage.
Given the circumstances, votes ought to be used strategically to elect a governor that is fit for Maine; a governor who is not named Paul LePage.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Claire Collery, Nick Daniels, Piper Grosswendt, Zoe Lescaze and Seth Walder.