Vote or Quit Bitchin’ 2012

Well, in the interest of keeping you interested, dear reader, we should probably say the answer to the question on this month’s cover is, It’s highly unlikely anyone can defeat Angus King in the U.S. Senate race this year.

That’s technically more accurate. It is possible our former governor’s Senate campaign could implode before we go to the polls on Nov. 6. For example, it could come to light that, in fact, King died in 2003 when he fell asleep at the wheel and drove his RV into the Grand Canyon, and the candidate now before us is a heavily make-upped, unusually gregarious zombie.

Angus King.

But even that may not be enough to derail the King train. Undead Angus would pick up the crucial Goth vote, and he’d peel off a substantial number of Republican candidate Charlie Summers’ supporters, who’d view his resurrection as an endorsement from God. In this scenario, I predict independent Zombie King over Democrat Cynthia Dill in a squeaker.

The real race was over almost before it began.

Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise, last-minute decision not to seek reelection put the dysfunction of the two major political parties (the same reason she quit) on full display. Fearful of causing a replay of the 2010 governor’s race — in which a strong independent candidate split the liberal vote with the Dem, effectively handing the Blaine House to a Republican nutcase — the Donkey Party put politics ahead of principles and punted. Top-tier Democratic politicos like Rep. Chellie Pingree (a personal friend of King’s) and John Baldacci (King’s gubernatorial successor) opted not to run, leaving a weak field of second-stringers to vie in the primary for the honor of being the sacrificial lamb.

Maine Republicans dutifully selected a right-wing ideologue who thinks Jesus ghost-wrote the Constitution and volcanoes are to blame for global warming. The one trump card the party had to play — Snowe’s endorsement — will not be laid on the table, because Summers sided with a Tea Party bozo over his former boss when Snowe faced an inter-party challenge last year.

Charlie Summers

This puts the media in a tight spot. On one hand, it’s important to be fair and give all six candidates the opportunity to make their case (unless you’re the Portland Press Herald, which is acting like half the field, the three other independent contenders, doesn’t exist). On the other hand, it’s important to be honest and acknowledge that King’s advantage is insurmountable at this point. The most recent polls indicate that his lead has shrunk from “enormous” to “really, really big” since June. By Election Day, I predict it’ll be merely “large.”

The other Congressional race southern Mainers will decide this fall, in which Pingree faces Republican State Sen. Jon Courtney, is even more lopsided. A Zombie Chellie could be caught on tape feasting on human flesh and still beat her hapless, charmless challenger by double digits.

Nevertheless, we reached out to both 1st District candidates seeking their answers to this year’s Voters’ Guide questions. Neither responded, so this is all the ink they’re getting.

Most of the Senate candidates had the class to get back to us. The lone exception was Secretary of State Summers. The King campaign did not make their man available for a phone interview (he was busy organizing a brain buffet for his ghoulish donors), but did provide written answers two minutes before our deadline.

Cynthia Dill

So the field looks like this…

There’s King, 68, the former two-term governor who lives in Brunswick and lectures at Bowdoin College, but makes most of his fortune from investment income. I refer you to Crash Barry’s report on King’s finances, published in last month’s issue, for more on that, and to Crash’s May cover story for The Bollard for even more dirt. In a nutshell, King is an affable guy who’s liberal on most social issues and conservative on fiscal matters.

Summers, 53, served two terms in the Maine Senate in the ’90s, then went on to lose three bids for Congress, most recently to Pingree in 2008. He’s been Maine’s Secretary of State since 2010 and lives in Scarborough.

Dill, 47, is a lawyer who resides in Cape Elizabeth and teaches at Southern Maine Community College. She jumped from the Cape Town Council to the Maine Legislature in 2006, and has been a state senator since the summer of 2011. Dill’s a dedicated lefty on issues across the board, but the political and financial powers in her party are ignoring her for the reasons mentioned above.

The three other independent candidates are Danny Dalton, Andrew Ian Dodge and Steve Woods.

Danny Dalton

Dalton, 56, runs a manufacturing business and lives in Brunswick. He has extensive military experience, including nine years on active duty with the Air Force and Army, and he was an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 12 years. He was motivated to run for federal office out of frustration with what he deems to be the government’s willful mismanagement of domestic and foreign affairs. In particular, he claims Sen. Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, among others, have failed to act upon intelligence he personally gathered in Afghanistan regarding terrorist and drug activity.

Dodge, 44, lives in Harpswell and is a freelance writer. He’s a former Republican turned Libertarian who’s been active in the Tea Party movement. He’s been agitating against Snowe since well before she threw in the towel.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Woods, 53, is a wealthy businessman who lives in Yarmouth. His career includes stints as an advertising and marketing executive for Coca-Cola and Miller, and an agent for professional basketball and baseball players. He’s currently CEO of TideSmart Global, a conglomerate of six companies headquartered on an “eco-friendly” campus in Falmouth. Woods is also a partner in the Maine Red Claws ownership group and its associated development project on Thompson’s Point in Portland.

We asked the candidates about their positions on some of the major questions of the day, as well as several issues on which Sen. Snowe has taken a controversial position — like her support of a Constitutional amendment banning desecration of the American flag, and her recent opposition to the DISCLOSE Act and a bill to require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. (For the record, as Dill pointed out, customers who make purchases online are supposed to report those purchases on tax forms, but we’re also supposed to floss three times a day.)

Steve Woods

As usual, most answers have been condensed to eliminate blather. We’ll be posting Voters’ Guides for Portland legislative and City Council races on our Web site this month, and we’ll probably get around to doing some endorsements, too, for races in which, unlike this one, an endorsement could make a difference.

—   Chris Busby


Do you support repeal of the Bush tax cuts?

Danny Dalton: Yes, for all income levels; eventually replace personal and corporate income tax with a value added tax system.

Cynthia Dill: Yes, but only for those who earn over $250,000.

Andrew Ian Dodge: No — “raising taxes during an economic downturn is insane.”

Angus King: No — “The sunset of these tax policies should be tied to measurable economic indicators, such as a growth rate or a specific employment rate, rather than arbitrary calendar dates.”

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; is on record supporting extension of Bush tax cuts for all income levels.

Steve Woods: Yes, but only for those who earn over $250,000.


Should the government encourage the construction of new nuclear power plants?

Danny Dalton: No.

Cynthia Dill: No.

Andrew Ian Dodge: Yes, “if it’s good enough for the French, it’s good for us.”

Angus King: No.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; voiced support for nuclear power at recent debate on energy issues.

Steve Woods: Yes, “it’s gotten safer.”


Should marijuana be legalized?

Danny Dalton: It should be decriminalized, but not legalized and taxed.

Cynthia Dill: Yes, “legalize, tax and regulate.”

Andrew Ian Dodge: Yes; all “naturally occurring drugs,” including “magic mushrooms,” should be legalized.

Angus King: No, but opposes federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; highly doubtful he would support this.

Steve Woods: Supports decriminalization, not necessarily legalization.


What is your position on abortion?

Danny Dalton: Pro-life; supports an exception when the life of the mother is at risk.

Cynthia Dill: Pro-choice; opposes any additional restrictions on access.

Andrew Ian Dodge: Pro-choice, but opposes federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Angus King: Pro-choice.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; has previously claimed to be pro-choice, but recently told the Bangor Daily News he supports “a woman’s right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother;” opposes federal funding for abortion services.  

Steve Woods: Pro-choice; opposes any additional restrictions on access.


Would you support a federal assault weapons ban?

Danny Dalton: No; believes it would not be effective.

Cynthia Dill: Yes, “but what’s important to me is not necessarily banning the weapons, it’s the high-capacity ammunition clips.”

Andrew Ian Dodge: No, “I don’t believe in the humanization of devices … We fault the device rather than the person using it.”

Angus King: No — “The problem with the [previous ban] is that manufacturers easily found ways to get around the restrictions.”

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; is on record opposing such a ban.

Steve Woods: Yes.


Should we take military action against Iran if they appear to be developing a nuclear weapon?

Danny Dalton: Believes we should have taken military action against Iran years ago, during the Iraq War, because Iran was supporting forces fighting our troops.

Cynthia Dill: No, “it would take more than just an appearance; it would take concrete evidence that our national security was at an unacceptable risk.”

Andrew Ian Dodge: No, “but we shouldn’t get in Israel’s way to defend itself.”

Angus King: “The credible threat of military action should always be on the table, but it should not be the first option … We would need to exhaust all possible diplomatic and strategic channels, including economic sanctions, before turning to military force.”

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; is on record opposing a pre-emptive strike.

Steve Woods: Yes, but not unilaterally; seek support of the U.N. and our allies first; “we need to draw a firm line in the sand.”


Should gay marriage be legal?

Danny Dalton: No; supports civil unions with the same rights and benefits.

Cynthia Dill: Yes.

Andrew Ian Dodge: “Of course, without a doubt.”

Angus King: Yes.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond; is on record opposing same-sex marriage.

Steve Woods: Yes.


Would you support the DISCLOSE Act, requiring prompt disclosure of any person or group that contributes over $10,000 to a PAC or “social-welfare group”?

Danny Dalton: Yes, “but I don’t think it will address the major problem, which is that big money will still be involved.”

Cynthia Dill: Yes; also supports public financing for candidates seeking federal office.

Andrew Ian Dodge: Yes.

Angus King: Yes, “as a first step … but I don’t think it goes far enough … it carves out an exception for certain highly influential special interest groups.”

Charlie Summers: Did not respond.

Steve Woods: Yes.


Would you support federal legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick days?

Danny Dalton: Would be willing to consider it.

Cynthia Dill: Yes, provided there are “appropriate exemptions” for small businesses for whom the “hardship might outweigh the societal benefit.”

Andrew Ian Dodge: No; “if that is to be done, it should be done at the state level.”

Angus King: No; small businesses “need adequate protection and the flexibility to respond to the needs of their employees, and a federal mandate would be unlikely to meet unique regional and industry-specific variations.”

Charlie Summers: Did not respond.

Steve Woods: No.


Should Internet sales be taxed?

Danny Dalton: No.

Cynthia Dill: Yes.

Andrew Ian Dodge: No.

Angus King: Yes.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond.

Steve Woods: Yes.


Should it be illegal to burn the American flag?

Danny Dalton: No.

Cynthia Dill: No.

Andrew Ian Dodge: No.

Angus King: No.

Charlie Summers: Did not respond.

Steve Woods: No.

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