Independent Candidate Terry Hayes Vies for Vulnerable Governor's Seat in Maine
In April, Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes announced her 2018 campaign for governor. She says she is running on a campaign that puts Maine and its people before partisan politics.
“I care about what is in the best interest of our state and its people,” Hayes states in the press release announcing her candidacy. “This is just the start of an eighteen month job interview with Maine voters. Together, we can move Maine beyond the divisive partisan politics that are holding us back.”
Hayes served in the state legislature for 8 years as a Democrat, from 2006 to 2014, and served in the leadership as assistant minority leader in the 125th Legislature. She changed her registration to "unenrolled" after the 2014 election. She was elected state treasurer in December 2014 by the legislature, garnering support from several Republicans and enough Democrats to replace the Democratic incumbent.
"Terry is a nonpartisan leader with a proven track record of challenging the political establishment and bringing Republicans, Democrats, and Independents together to solve problems," the press release adds.
During an interview for IVN, Hayes argued that despite the partisan divide among state politicians, Mainers have much more in common than not. The state is one of the most demographically homogeneous in the country. The problem, she believes, is the parties spend too much of their energy just looking for things to create conflict.
"The energy it takes to find those things and then magnify them distracts from the issues that really matter, that are going to help us improve our economy, improve education opportunities, when it comes to the environment. So, the things that we ought to be able to come to the table around that will benefit all of us become harder and harder to do because we're inventing differences and magnifying them." - Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes
Further, Hayes asserts that since neither side can collaboratively come together to define what the problems are, it prevents the state from finding the solutions it needs. She says she plans on building personal relationships to break the cycle of partisanship and identify real solutions.
"I want to define the problems collaboratively and design the solution, so that we look at, what are the tools available to us? What does the data tell us about these tools and how they can apply here? It's not about who gets credit. It's about how we move the needle forward," said Hayes.
That is how she says she approaches issues. It is not about a conservative or liberal ideology, but is the issue real? And if it is real, what does the data currently say about the issue? Hayes says her claim to fame is that she is a "civil, pragmatic problem solver," and she plans to govern as such.
Running as an independent in most states is not easy, and Maine is no exception to the rule. Hayes will have to collect twice as many qualifying signatures as the major party candidates in the same time period to appear on the ballot -- 4,000 signatures in three months. She also recognizes that it is difficult to establish a ground game without the financial backing and organization that comes from a party infrastructure.
However, during her interview Hayes added that she is building relationships across the state and has access to the support network of other independent candidates, including former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, whose campaign she worked on.
There is also one reform passed by voters she believes could end up helping her campaign -- ranked choice voting. If implemented for the 2018 elections, ranked choice voting would replace the choose one, plurality voting method with a voting method in which voters rank candidates by preference.
"I am in this whether or not ranked choice voting withstands the scrutiny of the law and court. I've said from the beginning that voter should decide how they want to vote. The people they elect should not take that choice from them," said Hayes. "But I think if we have ranked choice voting it will certainly help."
Right now it is uncertain whether or not ranked choice voting will be implemented for the 2018 elections. The legislature is waiting on an advisory opinion from the Maine Supreme Court.
Hayes says she is not running for governor with an alternative agenda of one day running for the U.S. Senate or president. She says she is running for governor to do the best job she knows how to do and to help ensure a prosperous Maine is there for her grandchildren and future generations.
"I want to help people focus on our similarities and on our collective and shared challenges and needs, because once we crack those nuts, everyone benefits," said Hayes. "It's not pitting poor people against rich people, or urban people against rural people. We are all in this together, everyone of us."