Can't We All Just Get Along? Maine Political Leaders Share New Year's Resolutions
After a fairly tumultuous election cycle, more than a few political leaders and their advisors are looking ahead to 2015 as a chance to do things just a little differently. Candidates and activists have their own unique New Year's resolutions.
Following a lot of active campaigning to become Maine's independent governor, no one could blame Eliot Cutler if he simply wanted to take all of 2015 off. But the Cape Elizabeth lawyer says he plans to find ways to remain engaged with public policy.
"I'm going to try to do the very best I can for my family and the state of Maine," Cutler says. "The most important resolution I have is not to run for governor again. But otherwise I love this state very, very much. And I'm going to try and find ways in which I can make a contribution outside the realm of elective politics."
Gov. Paul LePage, who cruised to victory over Cutler and Democrat Mike Michaud with 48 percent of the vote, hopes things can be a little more harmonious around the State House next year.
"My resolution for the new year? Get along with the Legislature," LePage says.
As the last of what is rapidly becoming a vanishing breed of Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins says her moderate inclinations will be put to the test in 2015 as she attempts to collaborate with varying factions within the new GOP majority in the U.S. Senate.
"My most ambitious New Year's resolution is to find an issue that Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz and I can agree on and work together on - that's my most ambitious resolution for the new year, given the ideological span represented by Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz, and I'm in the middle," Collins says.
The resolution from Maine's junior senator, independent Angus King, involves a pilgrimage that most New Englanders can relate to. "My New Year's resolution - if the Pats make it - is to go to my first Superbowl," King says.
Closer to home, at the State House, Republicans sounded as though they were still on the campaign trail when asked about their thoughts for next year. Only two years ago, Lisbon Falls state Sen. Garrett Mason secured a victory in a recount by a scant 28 votes. But he and other Republicans rode a wave of popular support last month to reclaim the majority this year. Now Mason is the Senate majority leader, and he kept his resolutions close to the party line.
"My New Year's resolution is to follow through on the promises that we made during the campaign: reducing energy costs and making sure that the very scarce funds for welfare services go to those who truly need it," Mason says.
At the opposite end of the State House, Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves sounded a conciliatory tone after Democrats lost seats during the November election, but were still able to hang on to the majority.
"So my New Year's resolution is to make sure that we're taking every opportunity to create more jobs here in Maine, and we know that we're going work with our Republican colleagues and Gov. LePage with that," Eves says. "And I think that, if we're successful, we'll see the jobs gap closing that currently exists in Maine."
Members of Maine's political culture are not limited to those holding political office. Brent Littlefield, a Washington consultant who guided the successful campaigns of both Gov. LePage and incoming 2nd District Congressman Bruce Poliquin, says he wants to get more sleep in 2015.
Mike Tipping, the communications director for the progressive Maine's People's Alliance wants a better life for his sons.
"One thing I've been thinking about is that this is my boys' first holiday and first New Year's - I had twin boys this year - and I worry a lot about how short-sighted our politics can be sometimes," Tipping says. "And so I guess the resolution I'd like is that I'd like to see more investment in the future in Maine - things like education and environmental protection and welcoming new Mainers. And I don't think we've seen as much of that as we might have liked last year, and, hopefully, it gets better."
Here at MPBN's State House Bureau, we resolve to continue striving for the kind of balanced coverage that our listeners have come to expect from us.