In the most unusual of years, we have one of the most unusual campaign seasons. Across Maine and the nation, candidates have struggled with whether it is safe to go door-to-door and tried a variety of innovative ways to get the word out. It’s an intimidating time to be a first-time candidate.
Yet, it’s more important than ever that people run. Perhaps it’s because of the coronavirus, but a total of 34 seats will go uncontested in the Maine Legislature on November 3, the first time this has happened since 1998.
I believe that there is, and there must be a marketplace of ideas. It is the point-and-counterpoint of policy debate that finds the balance point. The debate itself, even when difficult, is how we identify not just the reasons in favor of a new policy, but also the tradeoffs that come with it. When policy is made without real debate, calamitous unintended consequences may soon follow.
In an October 5 debate hosted by the League of Women Voters, I said that no one wins a coin toss. And I meant it. Circumstances of luck don’t matter, and do not make one a ‘winner’. Being born on third base doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser, and what’s important is not what you came here with, but what you do with it after you arrive. I believe that every contribution to make our community here is valuable, no matter big or small. And I believe that good people in a position to help need to try to do something positive.
In my case, I may be the first candidate in the Maine House to run on ‘being from away’.
Despite a long family history here, I make no effort to downplay the fact that I became a resident in 2016. A ‘refugee from the southern states’, as I like to say. Sometimes it takes someone from away to appreciate what we have here in Maine. Someone who came to build a life here, who respects Maine’s history and wants to conserve its environment, its traditions, and its way of life.
As a progressive Republican I am also a person who believes in progress; who believes that our children's lives will once again be better than our own, who believes that the government has an active role in keeping a level playing field and restraining monopoly.
As election day has marched closer, the ‘campaign’ against me has become drastically negative. Letters and op-eds sling mud. Someone said to me, “Mike, those are just words.” Indeed they are. But I think they are greatly misplaced. I have not turned to mud-slinging. There’s no need. And I am not someone who leads with words anyway. I lead with action.
If you have seen any of my campaign ads, I work to solve the real problems facing this community hands-on. When masks couldn’t be found in March, I started a mask factory. When a senior on my street needed a place to live with her service animal, I created affordable housing for her. When a tumble-down industrial building from the 1920s was on its last leg, I stepped in to save it, as I did once before. That is how I have led in this community, and it’s a good example of my approach.
My latest initiatives are my initiative for Maine to develop an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to support small business, and a new proposal to build a Carbon Repository here in the Midcoast to create Maine’s first viable carbon balancing initiative.
I have a penchant for taking on difficult, perhaps impossible challenges. Even more so with this race. What the naysayers about my campaign across the political aisle don’t understand is that it is not about them, per se. I am running as a progressive Republican to do nothing less than to remake my party from within. To revive the passion for progressive reform that was the heart and soul of the Republican party from the era of Lincoln and Roosevelt.
That is the impetus for what I am doing, and why I am fighting so hard to get the word out. Because if a progressive Republican can win in this district, that will send a message to the Maine GOP that there’s an upswell of support for new ideas, and a new approach.
The election is on November 3. And I think we have succeeded in presenting an interesting and real choice to the people of District 93. My opponent is well known, I am becoming well known too. I am very proud I was able to support so many locals and local businesses with this year’s energetic and record-breaking campaign.
We have supported video producers Jason Cary of JJC Photographic, Geoff Parker of Chrommunique, and their associates.
We have brought business to Dream Local Digital, Adventure Advertising and Crowning Touch Embroidery, The Copy Center Plus, Creative Imaging Group, and Staples; and designers Ben McGiness, and Erin Bagley of Little Bee Impressions, Megunticook Market and Catering, Ruckus Donuts, Dunkin Donuts, Main Street Markets, Atlantic Baking Company, Clan Maclaren, and Archer’s on the Pier.
I thank all of these businesses and all those who supported my campaign, those who knocked doors, hosted me in their home, or at their business. All of those who wrote letters to the editor or appeared in my videos. And a special thanks to my Treasurer Peter Overlock and my campaign manager Marci J. Casas, who rallied everyone on our team with her energy and dedication.
To all of my supporters, no matter what the outcome on Tuesday the 3rd, rest assured that I am here to stay. Because these projects I am working on – supporting entrepreneurship, creating affordable housing, and saving old buildings – these are my life’s work. And Maine is my home.
Michael Mullins is a Candidate for House District 93: Rockland and Owls Head