Politics and divorce

I had forgotten about this story, but I found it deep in my clips file. I remember being assigned this story and not really wanting to do it. I didn’t like the idea of calling up these politicians and asking them to talk about their divorces. Sure enough, none of them wanted to talk. I do remember that this story got pretty good play around the country — this clip came from the Tampa Tribune.¬†

Divorce no bar in Maine politics

AUGUSTA, Maine (UPI) — Top-level politics is no family matter in Maine, where the state’s two U.S. senators recently filed for divorce and the last two governors are among the ranks of the formerly married.

At a time when the public has focused on Gary Hart’s marital situation, the old adage that one must be stably married to succeed in politics has been thrown out the window in the Pine Tree State.

Gov. John McKernan has been divorced since 1978.  Democratic Rep. Joseph Brennan, who swapped jobs in January with former GOP congressman McKernan, was divorced in 1976. And when GOP Sen. William S. Cohen and Democratic Sen. George Mitchell announced within the past six months they were seeking divorces after marriages of 25 and 28 years, respectively, it raised more eyebrows in Washington than in Bangor or Portland.

Rep. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the state’s other member of Congress, has been a widow since 1973. She and McKernan are good friends and say they have dated.

“The people in Maine think nothing of it,” said James Russell Wiggins, former editor of the Washington Post, who moved to coastal Maine in 1969 to publish the weekly Ellsworth American newspaper. “I don’t think anybody ever raised divorce as an issue with Brennan’s election or McKernan’s, and you don’t hear about it with Cohen or Mitchell, either.”

Some political analysts say the state may have so many divorced politicians because Maine voters stress Yankee independence over conventional morals.

Continue reading