While still a hot topic in many states, you don’t hear much about teaching creationism in Maine. At least I don’t hear much in the circles I travel. At last night’s Republican debate candidates were asked if creationism should be taught alongside creationism in Maine’s schools. (big hattip to Brian Hubbell for tweeting this)
Steve Abbott: No
Bill Beardsley: Yes
Matt Jacobson: Evolution in Science Class, Creation in Philosophy Class
Paul LePage: Yes
Peter Mills: No
Les Otten: No
Bruce Poliquin: Yes
Most of the answers seem to be consistent with how the candidates have campaigned so far. This was a lightning round question, so there was little time for explanation. Again, it is no surprise Beardsley and LePage answered yes. They have made no bones about being social conservatives. No real surprises from Abbott, Jacobson, Mills, or Otten either. While some have views that could be considered socially conservative, none of these candidates have actively courted the social right.
Poliquin’s answer does come as a bit of a curve ball. Until this point, Poliquin has avoided taking a socially conservative position on such issues as gay marriage, and gun control. Poliquin may be trying to tap into support from social conservatives. His supporters are as die hard as those from any other campaign, especially in the online community. LePage supporters rival the online enthusiasm of Poliquin’s, perhaps even surpassing them. Poliquin is smart and has an excellent ground campaign, but as Matt Gagnon points out, he doesn’t really fit anywhere.
From Pine Tree Politics:
They think he is the “odd man out” – everyone else seems to have a niche that they fill (LePage the tea partiers, Beardsley the social conservatives, Abbott the strategic voters, Mills the moderate/liberals, Otten the out of touch voters responding to media buys, etc), but nobody can really peg Poliquin with that defining quality that would plant a flag in the hill and give people something to rally around.
His big argument is that he is a “business manager”. But that is drowned out by the fact that Otten has somehow built a narrative around being a successful businessman, LePage is a highly visible manager of a quintessential Maine business, and Jacobson has hit the business attraction argument hard via Maine and Company. That demographic of voters is very fractured.
Poliquin may be moving to take strong stances on issues to grab the attention of the GOP base. It could backfire. Beardsley and LePage have been pegged as the Soc Con candidates for quite some time. They have had time to build a strong base of support from those voters. It may be too late for Poliquin to attract enough of those votes to make a difference. His campaign also risks alienating business Republicans who are more socially moderate. Then again, he could succeed in separating himself from the other “business managers” running for the GOP nomination.
How do you feel about creationism being taught alongside evolution in Maine’s schools.