SCARBOROUGH — Dean Scontras is taking the phrase ‘running for office’ to heart. 

Scontras ran more than six miles on Route 1 Friday morning, from a car dealership along the ‘auto mile’ in Saco to a Scarborough coffee shop, looking for votes and support for his call to cut federal budget deficits. 

Scontras, a Republican, is challenging incumbent Rep. Chellie Pingree, D Maine, in the state’s First Congressional District. 

He’s staged several of his ‘running down the deficit’ events this summer and said Friday he expects to log about 57 miles from Kittery to South Portland in the effort to attract some attention to his campaign and the deficit issue. His current stretch of running will end Sunday in South Portland, but aides said they’re likely to put together a continuation of the run from Portland north in coming weeks. 

Other candidates have used similar tactics in the past, including Republican John McKernan, who staged a walking tour of the district before winning the seat in 1982. Scontras said McKernan’s wife, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, suggested he use a similar approach and Scontras opted for a slight variation – a series of running events. 

Scontras said his focus on the deficit is because the federal government’s debt is nearly as large as the country’s annual economic output. The only other time that happened, he said, was during the height of World War II. The Democratic- controlled Congress and White House are responsible, he said. 

“They’re adopting more and more policies that require that we borrow money from China,” Scontras said. “We can’t afford it – we’ve got a gaping hole in the roof of our country and it’s called the debt.”

Pingree’s campaign manager, Lisa Prosienski, said Pingree “is a small businesswoman who knows about balancing budgets and making do with less, and she has been fighting to create jobs and help our economy recover.”

Scontras said his recipe for reducing the annual deficit and eventually cutting the amount of outstanding debt is to cut taxes. Reducing taxes, he said, would ultimately increase federal revenues by sparking economic growth. High taxes discourage innovation and expansion, he said.

The stimulus package, which added to the country’s debt, has failed to fire up the economy, he said.

“To say it’s an anemic recovery is being optimistic,” he said.

He also said the country needs to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, noting that they cost the country an estimated $11 billion a month.

The start of the run at Patriot Subaru didn’t attract a crowd – Scontras stretched and talked with staff members as he prepared to run. Just before setting off, he was joined by Adam Arens, owner of the dealership.

Arens said he hasn’t chosen sides in the congressional race.

“I’m a supporter of those who want to make things happen, but I haven’t examined where either of them (Scontras and Pingree) would like to take us,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected].