Chitwood on Guv run: “Thanks, but no thanks”
Former police chief, now a Republican, endorses no one
By Chris Busby
Former Portland Police Chief Mike Chitwood announced this morning that he will not run for governor of Maine this year. He cited the challenge of funding a gubernatorial run and said his “passion remains in law enforcement.” Chitwood said he will not endorse any current candidate for governor, including incumbent John Baldacci, a Democrat. Several Republicans and a Green have already announced their intention to run.
Chitwood served as Portland’s top cop for 17 years before resigning last summer to take the job of Police Superintendent in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a town outside his hometown of Philadelphia. He said he’s since received “a couple hundred” e-mails and many phone calls from Mainers asking him to run for the state’s highest office. He said he called today’s press conference to essentially say “thanks, but no thanks” to those supporters.
The ex-chief said he met with “business and community leaders” in Maine as he contemplated what would have been his first run for public office. Among those he spoke with were U.S. Senator Susan Collins and Portland developer Joe Boulos.
Collins is likely the “very, very prominent” national politician who contacted Chitwood in November to ask if he would consider returning to Maine to make a run for Baldacci’s job. “I was very flattered when I received the call,” Chitwood told the Delaware County Times, a Pennsylvania paper that covers Upper Darby. At the Portland press conference, held in Boulos’ office, Chitwood said Collins had given him advice but had not committed to supporting him if he were to throw his hat in the ring.
While in Maine, Chitwood was registered as a Democrat. He said this morning that he is now a registered Republican in Pennsylvania. Collins is also a Republican.
Boulos was not present at the news conference – Chitwood said he’s in Florida – but his encouragement of Chitwood is significant. Boulos’ plan to build a new civic center, hotel and office building in downtown Portland disintegrated last year when Baldacci decided not to introduce a measure that would allow cities to use a special tax on meals and lodging to help fund such projects. Baldacci’s decision took Boulos by surprise, and clearly angered the developer, who’d assumed the so-called “local-option tax” legislation was a done deal.
Chitwood said that while considering a run, he figured he’d have strong support in southern Maine, but would not do nearly as well in northern counties, where his passion for gun control would cost him votes. He also cited his commitment to Upper Darby, where he’s been the top cop for less than six months.
Chitwood did not rule out a future political run. “You never say ‘never,'” he said.