2010's First Candidate
On Tuesday, the 2010 race for the Blaine House began with the official announcement of the first gubernatorial candidate, Green Independent Party chair Lynne Williams. Other candidates such as outgoing Attorney General Steve Rowe have made their intentions to run clear, but Williams is the first to make a public announcement. I spoke to the candidate about the race, her party, and her priorities.
Green Independent Party chair Lynne Williams.
Williams is a lawyer with a Doctorate in psychology who grew up in New York, lived in San Fransisco for much of her life, and moved to Maine in 1998. She has worked in government, owned an independent book store, and now does legal work for a variety of causes including RESTORE: The North Woods and groups opposing an LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay, wind farms in two locations in Maine, and water extraction by bottling companies.
The 2010 race is an important one for the Maine Green Party. The greens must win 5% of either the presidential or gubernatorial vote every four years in order to maintain their status as an official party. Williams hopes to do a bit better than that, at least equaling Pat LaMarche's almost 10% in 2006, and she doesn't rule out the possibility that she could win the election.
"You can't put yourself through a campaign unless you have an idea you can win, even if it's just a delusion," said Williams.
With that unlikely possibility in mind, I asked Williams about her plans for the office, starting with the economy.
"We need to be more proactive in attracting businesses," said Williams, who wants to go after manufacturers of the technology that will allow for green energy production and bring them to Maine. "I'd like to see a wind turbine production businesses or a solar voltaic facility here."
"I didn't like an across the board 10% cut," said Williams when asked what she would do about the current budget deficit. "Everyone is going to have to tighten their belt, but some are going to have to tighten their belts more than others."
When asked which departments would have to tighten their belts more than others, Williams didn't have a ready answer but said she'd be sitting down with the budget soon to figure that out.
Williams is similarly in the process of figuring out what her major issues will be for the campaign, but says attracting businesses and infrastructure, energy and transportation, and health care will definitely be up there. She supports gay marriage wholeheartedly, calls Dirigo Health a "disaster" and plans to spend more time studying the issue of taxes.
"I've asked some people to inform me on tax policy," said Williams. "It's not my strength but I'm trying to learn more."
Williams plans to apply for Clean Elections funding and run a grassroots campaign. She hopes to have paid organizers in every county by next fall and is considering renting a Winnebago to travel around the state. She says she wants to use the internet and social networking to promote her campaign, but seems to have not yet quite mastered the terminology. "I have someone who's setting up my viral networking and social-connections things," she explained.
One interesting aspect of Williams' candidacy is the possibility of a Green Party primary, which would be the first of its kind in Maine. Williams stated that she's heard that at least a couple other party members are considering runs, but declined to name these possible opponents. She did mention that former Rep. John Eder was not one of them.
When asked if she was concerned about being a "spoiler," Williams rejected the premise. "My philosophy is you don't steal votes from anyone, they lose them," she said.
Williams seems excited to hit the hustings. She ended her statement to supporters and the media by saying she looks forward to a "vibrant, visionary campaign."