Sportsmen’s Survey May Stump Gubernatorial Candidates

SAM logoMaine’s three candidates for governor recently received their 2014 Questionnaire from the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine. SAM is the only statewide sportsman’s group that surveys the views of candidates for major offices and the legislature, issues grades, and makes endorsements. Traditionally, the group has been nonpartisan and very successful.

In the 2014 Questionnaire, the candidates for governor are given brief explanations of many of the issues, and then asked a question. In the past, candidates have often tripped on firearms questions that, if answered incorrectly, make it unlikely those candidates will get good grades or an endorsement. The most difficult question for candidates – especially at the legislative level – has been the question asking if they support trapping. Many know nothing about trapping and have a poor or no opinion about it.

Some of the more interesting – and possibly challenging questions – on this year’s survey are these.

Do you support efforts to maximize the deer population’s potential and to also make use of hunting and trapping opportunities to control predators like the Eastern coyote?

Reporting that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife receives $100,000 per year to control coyote predation in and around deer yards, SAM asks, Will you vote to continue this important predation control program?

Apparently planning to propose a major new bond issue for the state’s fish hatcheries (something SAM successfully did about 10 years ago), SAM asks, Would you support a conservation bond issue that would be presented to the voters of Maine to bring our hatchery system into the 21st Century and greatly enhance the economy of rural Maine?

Given SAM’s traditional leadership and support for the Land for Maine’s Future Program, I especially appreciate this question: Will you support funding the Land for Maine’s Future Program and vote to maintain this important habitat protection and investment provision?

One question that will be tough to answer, without more information, is this one: Do you support efforts to enhance sporting opportunities on public lands? The survey includes no information about such efforts.

The gun questions include one that asks if they support the U.S and Maine Constitutions’ right to keep and bear arms, and if they would sign a bill to expand background checks to private firearm sales.

There are also questions about reverse posting, the introduction of wolves, and the establishment of a new national park.

The most important question, in my mind, asks if they would support a constitutional amendment to dedicate a portion of the sales tax to fund outdoor conservation. We’ve tried everything else. And I believe voters would support this, if the legislature and governor give them a chance. SAM’s question also asks if they would support a General Fund appropriation to fund the services DIF&W provides to the public.

Four years ago, candidate Paul LePage promised that, if elected governor, he would propose a budget that included public funding for 20 percent of DIF&W’s budget, and he would veto any bill that failed to do that. But he broke those promises.

Traditionally, SAM’s survey has proven to be an important tool in collecting promises from candidates. In my meetings with governors, for example, I would often have their SAM surveys in my possession, in case they needed to be reminded of those promises.

Given that he broke the most important promise he made to SAM four years ago, I don’t see how SAM can give any credibility to Governor LePage’s 2014 Questionnaire answers. It will certainly be interesting to see if the organization penalizes the Governor for his broken promises.

Question

Should the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, in grading Governor Paul LePage’s reelection bid, penalize him for breaking his promise to fund 20% of the budget of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife with General Fund tax money and to veto any budget that did not include that?

Please go to the Sportsmen Say Surveys section of my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com, to answer this question. Thanks!

 

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.