Thursday, May 29, 2008

Come on, Republicans! Start talking issues.

I continue to be disturbed by the tone of the Republican congressional primary coming up in less than two weeks. Two candidates, Charles Summers and Dean Scontras, are seeking the nomination to run for Maine’s First Congressional District seat. The incumbent, Thomas Allen (D) is giving up the seat to run against Republican incumbent Senator Susan Collins.

I have been hoping that what started out last week as contentious sniping would evolve into more issued oriented campaigning this week. The sniping by the candidates and their supporters continues. Some of the sniping may have some merit. Scontras says that Charlie Summers voted in 1991 while he was a member of the State Senate to raise taxes. Factually, he did. But Summers says his vote was the result of a compromise with Democrats. Summers, who is from Illinois, says Scontras only registered to vote two years ago after have left the state many years ago. Factually, that’s true. But Scontras was born in Maine and educated here before he left to earn his “fortune.”

An awful lot of water has passed under the bridge in the last 15 to 20 years. Both men have grown and have accomplished much success. Summers has worked for Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, served in the Legislature, led the Small Business Administration in Maine. That makes him a veteran in politics. Scontras is making his first foray into the world of politics which makes him a newcomer.

Summers has been labeled a moderate. Scontras calls himself a conservative. As just one example, on abortion, Summers is pro-choice; Scontras, pro-life. Their stands on several issues are reflected in the same manner, but they are too numerous for me to comment here. But I’ve heard of their stands primarily through the writings and opinions of their respective supporters. I’d like to hear directly from them. Their sniping tells me nothing about either, except, perhaps, Democrat Adam Cote might be the best choice of all running.

The Democrats, at least so far, haven’t lowered themselves to the sniping level. They are issuing ads that tell me what they would like to accomplish. They are using real issues to promote their personal, very expensive to the taxpayer goals. At least through their own comments I can reflect of my perception of the truth. Shellie Pingree, for example, touts her work in lowering medical costs and wants to do the same for the nation. Her efforts have been among those that have put Maine among the highest health cost states in the nation. Ethan Strimling is proud he supported an increase in the minimum wage which will raise the cost of goods for every Mainer. And then there’s that Lawrence guy whose only goal, it seems, is to impeach a President who won’t be in office before the charges can be filed.

But at least the Democrats are talking issues and letting me decide which are fanciful and which might be realistic. Of course I don’t have a voice in that primary; but if Cote wins the nod, I’ll have more heavy thinking to do.

I’m patiently waiting, Summers and Scontras, for you guys to start talking issues. I did attend what was billed as a debate recently, but the more I think of it, it was a terrible affair. The candidates tried to spin answers to some poorly designed questions to suit their purposes for the night. At the time, I thought I learned something. In retrospect and further thought I learned precious little.

Petition topic: Today various health care organizations are asking Mainers not to sign a petition to put a repeal of a massive 70-million dollar tax increase passed in the last moments of the last Legislature to fund Dirigo on the November ballot. These health organizations are buying into the lie the Democrats put forth that the world will end as we know it without these taxes. This increase was designed solely to fund the failed insurance program the state promotes. The program will not be ended and health care to individuals will not end if the tax is repealed. Only the way the program is funded will revert to its present structure. And only a minute percentage of the state’s neediest, as the health people will claim will be affected, are covered by DirigoChoice anyway. I will continue to seek out a petition to sign and I hope you will, too.


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