Anyone who is 30 years old, has been a U.S. citizen for at least 15 years and has been a resident of the state of Maine for five years can run for governor.

It’s a fundamental right and privilege that I wouldn’t dream of denying to anyone.

I do believe, however, that a decision to run for that office should be careful and deliberate and should be made based on a potential candidate’s determination of what’s in the best interest of the people of the state of Maine.

Maine’s electoral system and our history of multi-party elections means that voters have to mark their ballots strategically based on their own values. That kind of strategy also should be an important part of a potential candidate’s decision-making process.

Many people believe that Eliot Cutler, who ran as an independent in the 2010 gubernatorial contest and came in second to Paul LePage, already has decided to run again for the seat in the 2014.

Cutler, however, has said that he is currently only considering such a run and hasn’t yet decided; I am going to take him at his word.

In this case, I would urge him to fully consider the implication of such a campaign in light of the kind of future he wants to see for our state. Perhaps the things he wishes to see happen can be better achieved in another way.

Cutler’s platform in 2010 was, like most political documents, couched in the frame of solutions to problems faced by our state. Much of it, again like most political documents, was ephemeral: there was talk of investing in education, natural resources and Maine’s “places of character.” Where it did get specific, such as Cutler’s recommendations for restructuring government departments or changing energy policy, the focus was almost entirely on technocratic fixes.

These ideas usually would be the kind of thing that might prompt the authoring of a policy report, not the launching of a gubernatorial campaign.

Cutler’s platform obviously was aimed at voters’ prefrontal cortexes, rather than their hearts. When Cutler did talk about values during his campaign, he mentioned things such as a belief in universal access to health care, equality for all and the need to safeguard Maine’s natural resources. I guess that his focus on fact and science-based solutions to our state’s problems also can be seen as an expression of his belief in the value of rationality in our policies.

If these are his values, they should give him some pause as he considers another run.

LePage has governed in a diametrically opposite direction from where these values would lead. He has, among many other unfortunate initiatives, denied care on a massive level, led an assault on Maine’s environmental protections and has delighted in his anti-intellectualism, all but declaring the Blaine House a fact-free zone.

By entering the race and making it a three-way contest, polls show that Cutler would provide LePage a pathway to win re-election. Potentially enabling the continuation of these policies should prompt Cutler to think long and hard about any decision to run.

Some might say that another thing Cutler values is moderation in our politics. If we examine his public statements and actions, what moderation seems to mean to him is the willingness of people to work together.

His political organization, OneMaine, for instance, endorsed candidates for the Legislature on both ends of the ideological spectrum, based on entirely their ability and willingness to cooperate rather than on their personal political beliefs.

Here again, it’s obvious that promoting this kind of politics doesn’t require a run for governor. A victory in 2014 by LePage, with his rejection of any almost any form of cooperation or compromise, represents an outcome directly opposite to the one Cutler professes to want.

I don’t believe that the Democratic or Republican parties have a special license or privilege to the votes of any group of people in Maine. If Cutler entered the race, he wouldn’t be “taking votes away” from anyone.

But just as many Democrats made a strategic decision to support him over Democrat Libby Mitchell in 2010 as their best chance of stopping LePage, Cutler should take similar, values-based strategic considerations into account this year.

Is running for governor really the best way to advance what Cutler says he cares about? If not, then a campaign would be more about personal ego rather than public good. That’s not a good reason to run for governor.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie. He writes his own blog at MainePolitics.net and works for the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine People’s Resource Center. He’s @miketipping on Twitter. Email to [email protected]

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