Ranked-choice voting is interesting for a few reasons. Maine is the first state in the nation to try it, apt considering our motto means “I lead or guide.” It’s confusing enough that the secretary of state launched a voter-education campaign to explain it. My favorite reason that ranked-choice voting is interesting is that it offers a new, nuanced and complex way to vote one’s conscience. In the Democratic primary for governor, I’ve decided to put Betsy Sweet at the top of my list, followed by Janet Mills.

Mills is competent, highly qualified, and I suspect she might have a firm handle on what’s going on in Maine and some real insights on how to address some of our big problems. But she can also be cutting and caustic. She’s smart to spin it as iconoclastic and rebellious, but there is too much similarity between her style and that of our current governor.

Sweet is the opposite of Mills. She manages to be kindhearted and compassionate, yet still has the tenacity that voters look for in a gubernatorial candidate.

And I’d probably be inclined to do some comparison shopping between her, Mark Eves, and Adam Cote if I didn’t have a personal connection with Sweet. Long a part of my mom’s extended social network, I marched alongside Betsy in the Maine Won’t Discriminate protest in Hallowell in 1995.

This was not an easy decision, because I believe that Mills can win in the 2nd District. She is more relatable. She speaks authoritatively and with a Maine accent, and she really does know what she’s talking about. But it is Sweet who will be ranked first on my ballot.

I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to vote my conscience and maintain my strong-held pragmatic idealism in the same election.

Caitlyn Coyne


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