She’s ba-ack: Diane Russell joins growing list of gubernatorial candidates

I’m still suffering from Post Election 2016 Stress Disorder compounding my President Trump Stress Disorder and my usual PTSD, so I’ve been trying to ignore the recent candidacy announcements. I mean, who wants to think about voting in 2018 already?

Okay, so maybe I had a hard time ignoring former DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew’s announcement that she was running for governor, and I’m trying hard to ignore the latest example of why Mayhew might not be chief executive material.

Apparently it’s not safe to assume the Adult Protective Services branch of DHHS was clear about its mission, according to the federal government.

I’m also having a hard time ignoring Diane Russell’s announcement about her desire to inhabit the Blaine House. A four term representative from Portland, Russell lost a race for a senate seat in 2016. In announcing, Russell touted her involvement with advocacy behind bringing legal recreational marijuana and ranked-choice voting to Maine.

Both came in the form of referendum questions in 2016 — don’t get me started about the almost 30 page mess behind Question 1 — and both have hamstrung our legislature ever since.

The legislative committee charged with overseeing the development of a recreational marijuana market spent the first half of the session hearing all sorts of things from lobbyists and interested parties. One of the silliest, in my opinion, is the idea that a 20 percent tax will undermine Maine’s long thriving marijuana black market. 

As for the language behind ranked choice voting, part of that law was ruled unconstitutional, further stymying lawmakers as to what to do with it. 

The long and short of it regarding promoting Russell to the governor’s office based on her recent political advocacy? I’d like to think someone with eight years legislative experience could’ve backed referenda that were legislatively and constitutionally sound. Of course that’s not the first time I’ve had concerns about Russell’s legislative judgment.

But, I reassert, it’s too early to pay too much attention or to get too cynical, even if the temptation to anticipate the end of the LePage administration is great.

It’s not to early to dream, though, and I do already have a dream ballot — for the top three candidates, at least. I call them the cojones candidates:  Democrat and current attorney general Janet Mills, Republican Senator Susan Collins, and Independent and current state treasurer Terry Hayes.

It’s a dream because Mills has some elbowing to do on the left, and Collins has yet to announce a decision about running.

It’s a dream because having three ladies at the top of the ballot would almost guarantee Maine would finally see a female chief executive.

It’s a dream because, in terms of leadership, these ladies have proved the strength of their spines.

Hayes has taken stands against her former Democratic party, and Mills is well-known for taking stands against Governor LePage when necessary. Collins’ spine has been a strong mast at the center of the shaky ship that is the U.S. Senate under the Trump administration. 

Imagine the discourse that would surround these three savvy, experienced, intelligent, independent-minded candidates … suddenly our standards for political discourse would be going up instead of down.

It would be the perfect antidote for my Post Election 2016 Stress Disorder.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.