There are two Republican primaries of a possible four in Maine this year on Tuesday June 10th. They are: the Senate race and the Second District race being vacated by a Democrat. Although the Governor's office is up for election, Republican incumbent Paul LePage faces no primary opposition. His chances for reelection will be covered in a later entry.
In the Senate race, Republican incumbent Susan Collins will face write-in candidate Erick Bennett in the primary. To say he is an interesting character is an understatement. He is using a 2003 domestic assault on his ex-wife as a campaign theme against "oppressive laws." How a law against wife-beating is oppressive takes some explanation. He argues that because he spent time in jail for an act he allegedly did not commit (despite the evidence and trial conclusion), it illustrates his commitment to standing up for his beliefs and, thus, his integrity. Hmmmm.....
On the issues, Bennett attacks Susan Collins with this statement: "Susan Collins voting record on health care can be summed up easily. She did not vote for Obamacare but she has not voted to repeal it either." Someone needs to inform Mr. Bennett that Susan Collins and indeed the entire Senate has not had an opportunity to repeal Obamacare. Although the House has voted several such repeals, they have never come up for a vote in the Senate.
There are many things in the record of Susan Collins' tenure in the Senate for conservatives to be upset about and to be wary of Collins, but she does carry the "R" after his name. Unless someone to the right of Collins emerges who is not a fruitcake like Erick Bennett, her reelection is almost a necessity. Practically every poll available shows Collins winning handily against her presumptive Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows. Given the choices here- RINO versus nutcase - the "endorsement" is obvious: Susan Collins.
In the Second District race, Congressman Mike Michaud is vacating his seat to run for Governor. Two GOP candidates have emerged with campaign experience: Bruce Poliquin who was formerly the state treasurer. He also ran in the 2010 gubernatorial GOP primary and finished 6th out of seven candidates at the time. In 2012, he ran in the Senatorial primary and lost to Charlie Summers to replace the retiring Olympia Snowe which cost the GOP a seat in the Senate. His opponent will be Kevin Raye who was formerly the state senate president. Raye previously ran for this seat in 2002 and narrowly lost to Michaud. In 2012, he again ran for the seat, won the GOP primary, but again lost to Michaud with 41.8% of the vote.
There is a great opportunity for the Republican Party here to win a congressional seat in New England which in the House currently has no GOP members. The most current polls have Raye ahead in the primary election and ahead against either Democrat who emerges from their primary. Those same polls show Poliquin within reach of either Democrat. But before we jump on the Raye bandwagon, there is one major disturbing fact in Raye's background. When he ran in 2002 against Michaud, several pro-choice groups took the rare stance of endorsing Raye, a Republican, over Michaud, a Democrat. Raye touts his ability to "reach across the aisle" to get things done.
Abortion will likely not play a major role in this 2014 midterm election in Maine. Instead, issues like Obamacare and educational reform will play a role. I have searched high and low for positions in key areas for Ken Raye and have come up empty-handed most of the time. We can infer he would reform, not repeal Obamacare. His rating from the Maine Education Association infers some support for school choice, but nothing definitive. This illustrates a cagey campaign built on ambiguity.
This writer is painfully aware that this represents a real opportunity to pick up a House seat in New England of all places. The question is: At what price? Simply, there are way too many ambiguities about the policy positions of Kevin Raye. And while polling shows that he would be the most formidable candidate in the general election against any Democrat, that can change in a heart beat. This is, after all, Maine. Instead, I would rather go with a candidate whose positions are not ambiguous. One may not like all of Poliquin's policy positions, but there is enough there to support his candidacy. Therefore, this writer "endorses" Bruce Poliquin.