Maine State Senator Peter Mills

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A Win-Win Opportunity for the GOP
      Ellsworth American    8-11-05

Maine citizens should applaud, rather than deplore, the entry of State Senator Peter Mills of Skowhegan into the fray for the nomination as the GOP candidate for governor. Mills, a veteran of 10 years in the Maine Legislature, will be doing battle against Peter Cianchette of South Portland, also a former legislator, in next year's Republican primary.

Some of Maine's Republicans believe a primary fight should be avoided and would prefer to cede the nomination to Cianchette, who ran against Governor John Baldacci in 2002 and lost with 41 percent of the vote to Baldacci's 47 percent. Former U.S. Rep. David Emery opted not to run when Cianchette announced his candidacy, suggesting that Cianchette could then focus all of his attention on defeating Baldacci this time around.

Competition is healthy, whether it occurs within or among political parties. There is no good reason for the GOP to award the nomination to Cianchette by default, simply because he ran once before. Mills is an experienced legislator with a keen mind who has paid particular attention to the state's fiscal affairs during his years in government. He's known as one whose positions are well-informed and based on facts and principle, not partisan dogma.

With a 12-step plan already in place, Mills has the jump on Cianchette, who has yet to release a plan of action. But the presence of two candidates in the race for the GOP nomination should prompt a spirited debate on the issues of the day, a debate that will help inform all Maine citizens - not just Republicans - as they look ahead to next year's election.

We hope, and expect, that the state's Republican organization will be even-handed in its support for both Mills and Cianchette as the campaign unfolds. After all, the democratic process is all about making choices. With the opportunity to consider two strong candidates, the primary would seem to be a win-win opportunity for Maine's Republicans.