I am going to take a look at the six questions that were posed to each of the candidates for Maineâ€™s Governor. I have received three responses from the four candidates who were asked to participate. Those asked was Governor John Baldacci incumbent democrat, republican candidate Chandler Woodcock, independent candidate Barbara Merrill and green party hopeful Patricia LaMarche. The only one not to have responded to date is LaMarche. I have decided to proceed without her answers. If I get them later, I will post them and make separate commentary.
I will do this in six parts breaking down answers from the candidates that apply to each question separately. I will post the original question as it was posed to the candidates followed by each oneâ€™s response. I will then make comments on their answers and offer opinions of my own.
Question number one – In an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maineâ€™s hunting and fishing heritage?
Here is Governor Baldacciâ€™s response to question one.
I am a strong supporter of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage, and played a key role in defeating the referendum to ban bear hunting, baiting and trapping. I understand the desire of some sportsmen not to have to engage in public referendums to protect hunting and fishing, but fear of debate about public issues runs counter to our American values. When sportsmen fear debate on issues of importance to them, they have already lost. There have been only two voter-initiated referendums in Maine history on hunting or fishing issues, the Moose referendum in the mid-1980’s and the 2004 Bear referendum.
Sportsmen prevailed in both. A better use of the time and resources of sportsmen would be to support the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s “Hunter Heritage” program to educate Maine people – particularly in Southern Maine – about why they need hunting and hunters.
Barbara Merrillâ€™s response:
I do not believe we need a Constitutional Amendment and fear that if we tried to enact one and failed that it would lead some to conclude our Maine heritage isnâ€™t already protected. What we need is to elect leaders who understand the importance of hunting and fishing to Maine people and who have the ability to convey this to new comers to our state. I try to do this in my book Setting the Maine Course â€“ We Can Get There From Here. Itâ€™s available on line at BarbaraMerrill.Com and at most Maine bookstores. I would be interested in feedback from the readers of this blog.
Chandler Woodcockâ€™s response:
I would support the constitutional amendment after it was approved by the people of Maine. I would not initiate the process or side with those who initiate the process. That said, there are two issues being addressed: The first is the preservation of the heritage and the second is the rights of the citizens to petition the government. I do not yet believe that the first has created a need to eliminate the second.
First of all, I would like to say that it became obviously apparent to me who the incumbent was by the political answers given by Governor Baldacci. The Governor took the opportunity to be evasive, diplomatic and inclusive of hunting groups such as the Sportsmanâ€™s Alliance of Maine â€“ perhaps making an assumption that many of our readers are members of or support efforts by the Maine Sportsmanâ€™s Alliance. He also jumped on the chance to toot his own horn of the accomplishments he wants readers to hear, as would any incumbent.
Both Baldacci and Woodcock state that having a Constitutional Amendment to the Maine Constitution to protect the heritage of hunting and fishing would diminish the freedom of the people to petition the government to enact change. To me this response is one born out of fear of losing a few votes and is a contradiction unto itself. First of all, a citizenâ€™s initiated referendum to amend our Constitution is what our state and country is founded on. If an amendment were completed, it would in no way take away the rights of citizens to petition a change, again.
What a Constitutional Amendment would do is protect a heritage that is engrained into Maine society and is a very big part of the Maine economy. It would discourage groups like the Humane Society of the United States from accomplishing their ultimate goals by bombarding us with further referendums in order to deplete our financial resources. Once that is accomplished, they can proceed with their agenda of banning hunting and fishing. If an overwhelming majority of Maine citizens believe in protecting that heritage by referendum, then that in itself is the right of the people to petition the government.
Baldacci laments about sportsmen fearing public debate. I donâ€™t know of one single sportsman who fears a debate about what they love to do. What they donâ€™t have is bottomless pockets full of money that it takes to fight groups bent on destroying American heritage. He states that â€œWhen sportsmen fear debate on issues of importance to them, they have already lost.â€ As I have already stated, Maine sportsmen do not fear debate. Baldacciâ€™s answer comes from his fear of losing the votes.
Woodcock is very non-committal in where he stands. He says he would support a Constitutional amendment after it was approved by the people although he would not side with whoever initiated the petition. I guess he is saying that he wouldnâ€™t get in the way of what the citizens of Maine wanted.
He also speaks of my question as having two parts â€“ one of protecting our heritage and one of preserving the rights of the people to petition their government. I will ask a question of Woodcock and Baldacci. Why is petitioning the government for a Constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing heritage not good American values? Yet according to both Baldacci and Woodcock, leaving the door open for animal rights groups to come in at anytime and try to strip our heritage from us, now is the right of the people to petition? Their reasoning is illogical.
I believe that Merrill at least makes an attempt at addressing the truth about what is happening in Maine. As more and more people cross the border into Maine, buy up the land and post it, these are the same people who often will either side with the animal rights groups or take on a â€œI donâ€™t careâ€ position. These people havenâ€™t a clue about Maineâ€™s heritage and could really could care less.
I have to ask if either Baldacci or Woodcock have left the state of Maine in recent times? The Governor is recalling the two referendums that occurred in Maine in the last twenty or so years that concern hunting – the Moose Referendum and the Bear Referendum. Woodcock says he doesnâ€™t think thereâ€™s a need to protect hunting and fishing heritage. He believes by doing so we would be taking away the rights of citizens.
Both men need to get out a bit more and see what is happening all across America. Land use is shrinking at an alarming rate. Big money is being funneled into the hands of extreme animal rights groups who are bent on destroying our heritage. Land grabbers, as they are called, are making every attempt at closing down lands and making them wilderness, excluding many.
The HSUS has left Maine for now after losing the bid to stop bear hunting but you can bet they will be back. Once they spot a weakness, they exploit it. They are watching closely as the landscape of Maine changes. With that change is coming more and more residents who could care less about what’s important to the natives. They will return but not nearly as quickly if Maine voters were to say they believe in protecting our heritage. Maine needs to step up and speak out now about how really important hunting, fishing, trapping and all outdoor recreation is to the economy of this state. A bold statement in support of an amendment would be a first step.
Overall, I am very disappointed with the responses given by all the candidates to this question. Somehow I thought that someone would actually be brave enough to state how he or she felt.
Merrill is correct when she says we need to elect representatives who truly understand this heritage and will work to protect it. The right of the people to petition the government will stand no matter whether this amendment or any other amendment is initiated. Maine and the United States have several amendments to its Constitutions and none of those has taken away the rights of the people. It wouldnâ€™t in this case either.
Baldacci wouldnâ€™t tell us what he would do. He bragged about how much he supports hunting and fishing and tells us to spend our time doing something more productive â€“ like joining up with the Sportsmanâ€™s Alliance. He doesnâ€™t think Maine is being threatened by outsiders and says sportsmen fear debate.
Merrill clearly stated that she doesnâ€™t think we need an amendment. But, she went on to say that she feared a failed attempt would make people think that the heritage wasnâ€™t protected.
Woodcock seemed a bit too wishy-washy. He would support an amendment but donâ€™t ask him to take a side. Thatâ€™s non-committal. He too stated that there really was no need to protect our heritage.
I am tempted to keep score by giving one candidate the nod over the others per each question. I may regret doing this but here goes.
I would give an ever so slight edge to Barbara Merrill with the emphasis on â€œever soâ€. The reason being that she at least stated right up front that she didnâ€™t think we needed a Constitutional amendment. The other issue was in her attempt at making me think that she just might have a clue as to what is happening to the character and personality of Maine.
Comments are now open.