Vote or Quit Bitchin’ 2006
Local election coverage
Voters’ Guide: State House District 113
Brautigam and Elowitch: The Rematch
By Chris Busby and Erik Eisele
Fifty-five votes. Fifty-five stinkin’ votes.
You can’t help but picture Republican David Elowitch muttering this over and over again following his narrow defeat to Democrat John Brautigam two years ago – and this after initial results gave Elowitch a 21-vote lead (absentee ballots from Portland made the difference). Both were first-time candidates in this North Deering district that includes a small part of Falmouth. Brautigam, a legal consultant, actually lives in Falmouth, Elowitch in Portland.
Fifty-five stinkin’ votes. Like when Rocky fought to a draw against Apollo Creed, you knew there’d be a rematch of this one. Here it comes.
In the incumbent’s corner: Brautigam, now 45, a single dad and former assistant state attorney general who helped slug it out against big drug cartels – er, we mean companies – over Maine’s prescription drug initiative for the poor (the Maine Rx program).
Brautigam’s still active on prescription drug issues, and has earned some legislative victories in other areas. He co-sponsored a bill to help small businesses score state contracts, and crafted another that prevents companies from selling people’s cell phone records. Another bill he introduced gives those who buy and install solar panels on their home or business a rebate of up to $1,250 (the cash comes from a state fund administered by the Public Utilities Commission).
A rising star in the state’s Democratic Party, Brautigam is against TABOR, pro-choice, and a fan of the state-sponsored Dirigo Health program.
And now the challenger: Elowitch, 37, a married father of two with experience owning auto service stations, working in real estate, and teaching teens at Portland High how to wrestle. He also volunteers at a local nursing home and is active in the Jewish Community Alliance.
Elowitch is pro-choice, pro-TABOR, and fundamentally opposed to any additional state spending and taxation. His strong anti-tax stance seems to have his opponent swaying a bit – Brautigam said he’s undecided on the issue of allowing cities to levy a so-called “local-option sales tax,” an idea long-promoted by Portland officials and legislators to lower local property taxes and/or build a new civic center or convention center.
Dirigo Health? Elowitch thinks it’s time to abolish it. Ban assault weapons? Elowitch wants more info before deciding; Brautigam has already made up his mind: ban ’em.
Time to institute the death penalty in Maine? Elowitch thinks so, Brautigam thinks not. Neither wants to expand gambling, but both like the idea of expanding “drug-free safe zones” around parks, playgrounds and other recreation areas where kids hang out. Did we mention that’s a stupid idea?
Brautigam said he’s undecided on the question of whether Peaks Island should be allowed to secede from Portland, but Elowitch already has an answer for Peaks Islanders: no.
And finally, neither of these landlocked candidates has a clue about what can be done to help prevent the imminent extinction of Maine’s commercial groundfishing industry. Brautigam said fishing boats are small businesses, so anything that helps small businesses should help fish harvesters. (Perhaps there’s a state contract to supply the governor with haddock?) Elowitch said he needs more info, but called for a reduction of state regulations on the fishing industry. We refer you to the first part of the preceding sentence.
The results of this November’s vote will hinge on whether District 113 voters are pissed enough over taxes to kick out a promising incumbent who’s shown some effectiveness on other issues. If the Dems can’t keep this seat, at least they’ll know why.