Maine Heritage Gets A New Face

Tarren Bragdon announced in April that he would be leaving his position as CEO of the Maine Heritage Policy Center to start up a similar organization in Florida, leaving a gaping hole in conservative policy leadership in Maine.

Maine Heritage is unquestionably the most influential conservative think tank in Maine (yes, there are others), and Tarren himself had managed to accumulate a considerable amount of influence, despite his young age.  Enough influence that he scared the living bejesus out of Bill Nemitz.

The process of selecting a replacement was extremely important for the think tank.  They have established themselves at the forefront of policy making in the state, especially with the new conservative majorities in the legislature and the administration of Governor LePage, and have a considerable amount of momentum that they need to maintain.  Bragdon himself was a member of LePage’s transition team, and he and the MHPC have provided the priorities and much of the research for Maine government this year.

This morning, they announced who would be taking the helm: Lance Dutson.

Full disclosure, Lance is a friend of mine, and we have worked pretty closely together on a number of things in the past couple of years.  Indeed, after he left Senator Collins‘ office, I was the one who replaced him in her office.  So, feel free to be skeptical about my objectivity if you must, but none the less, I consider this a phenomenal hire for MHPC.

Lance has been deeply involved in Maine politics for years, and has a deep understanding of policy.  More important to me, however, is Lance’s background in communications, particularly his focus on innovation and technology.

He has extensive experience in campaign style communications, running digital operations for Senator Collins’ 2008 Senate campaign as well as that of Senator Kelly Ayotte in 2010.  He has also done the same in political advocacy, serving as the Director of Communications for the Maine Republican Party.  And he has experience with official office work, serving as the Director of New Media for Senator Collins, and the Director of Communications for Speaker Bob Nutting.

That focus on communicating will serve Maine Heritage well.

Dutson has said that in addition to the issues that Maine Heritage already works on, he will be pushing a new set of priorities.  From the MHPC release:

Under his leadership, MHPC will build upon its success in exposing unethical waste of taxpayers’ dollars at the Maine Turnpike Authority and expand efforts to increase government accountability by identifying waste and corruption within the state’s bureaucracy. The Center will also innovate its outreach strategies to better educate Maine citizens and taxpayers about the politicians and policies impacting their jobs, families and communities.

Bravo.  I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Congratulations Lance.  A great pick.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.