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CQ Profile: Angus King

CQ Profile: Thomas J. Connolly

CQ Profile: James B. Longley, Jr.

AllPolitics' Election '98: Maine (06-10-98)

Voters Pick Candidates In Five States (06-10-98)

Maine voters repeal state gay rights law (02-11-98)


Post your opinions on the November races

Nice guy looks to finish first in Maine governor's race

By Bill Delaney/CNN

PORTLAND, Maine (October 28) -- In the governor's race in Maine, partisan bickering is paying off for Independent incumbent Gov. Angus King. His wild popularity may be due to a season of disillusionment with traditional political parties.

The GOP nominee is former congressman Jim Longley, whose father served as an Independent governor in the mid-1970s. The Democrats are backing Tom Connolly, a Portland attorney.

Gov. Angus King  

But voters in Maine seem satisfied with the incumbent King, a lawyer and long-time television talk show host. King is expected not just to defeat his Democratic and Republican opponents, but to bury them.

"Maine people tend to be independent. Frankly, I wasn't very comfortable with the ... governmental answer to every problem, of the Democrats," King explained. "But I also wasn't comfortable with what I consider the overly conservative agenda of the right-wing of the Republican Party on social issues."

His middle of the road stance may be one explanation for his high poll numbers. A strong economy is another reason. But most Mainers say what really matters is that they just like the guy.

King does have some detractors, like the five other candidates running against him. Rightists oppose him as pro-abortion rights. Leftists say King is too much on the side of big business. The AFL-CIO is backing the Democratic candidate who is showing up in the latest polls in single digits.

Still in Maine this fall, finding an King hater is like unearthing a Yankee hater in the team's hometown of New York.

Observers who watch King engulfed again and again by pretty much adoring crowds may wonder whether his statewide appeal could translate to a larger stage and a run for higher office. But that's unlikely to happen because the governor insists he has no aspirations beyond one more term in Maine. His opponents hope he keeps his word and gives them a chance at the executive mansion.

"Both parties are counting on it. When Angus King leaves office, he will leave nothing behind," says Professor Richard Mainman of the University of Maine. "He'll leave no structure, no successor, no legacy."

He may leave behind nothing, except perhaps the lingering sense that politics can rise above rancor. King says he was inspired to do it his way by the idealistic maverick of Massachusetts politics, the late Sen. Paul Tsongas.

"Partisanship itself has become part of the problem," King says. "They've got to quit playing this inside baseball game because that's what the public is sick and tired of. They just want problem solving."

And most voters in Maine believe King is answer to the problem of which gubernatorial candidate to vote for on November 3.


Wednesday, October 28, 1998

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