ACTON – I read the column by Erskine Bowles in the Sept. 6 Press Herald that endorsed Angus King for the U.S. Senate (Maine Voices, “King ready to reach across Senate aisle to address budget deficit”).

Mr. Bowles, a moderate Democrat and co-chairman of the recent bipartisan federal deficit reduction commission, held a town hall event with Gov. King last weekend to discuss the debt.

I believe Mr. Bowles is a sincere man who wants to see the federal debt reduced and sees partisanship as a severe impediment to making that happen. He must have jumped at the opportunity to endorse an independent candidate.

Unfortunately, I believe he misread the candidate he endorsed. The leader he described is not the governor I knew when I served in the Maine Legislature.

I always considered myself to be one of the more pragmatic Republicans. As a member of the Appropriations Committee — the committee that writes state budgets — one has to be pragmatic in order to reach the compromises necessary to achieve a budget that can be passed with a two-thirds vote. Therefore, I looked forward to working with Gov. King when he first came into office.

Although I was a Republican, I thought that at least King would not be as partisan and combative as a governor from the opposing party. My hopes were false, however, and King proved to be just as bullheaded as any governor, and in at least two instances, even more so.

Maine has a long tradition of passing budgets with a two-thirds supermajority. In fact, our constitution is designed around it. This is because of the general belief in Maine that a budget is such an important bill that there must be broad, bipartisan consensus to pass it.

Twice during his governorship, however, Angus King and the majority party came up with a scheme to avoid the long-held constitutional tradition of supermajority budgeting and ram a contentious budget through the Legislature with a slim vote margin.

The parliamentary maneuver required the speaker of the Maine House and the president of the Maine Senate to lie to the people of Maine about the work before the Legislature. It also led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs, because it required the remainder of the Legislature’s work to be conducted in special session.

I was disappointed when Gov. King participated in this scheme. I, like Erskine Bowles, thought he represented a different way of doing things.

One might say that perhaps such a gimmick was necessary because the minority Republicans were being obstructionists. But we were not. We reached out to the Democrats and to King.

It quickly became apparent, however, that neither King nor the Democrats were interested in tempering spending increases, as we had requested. Late at night when we voted on one of these budgets, Democratic 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, then a state senator, even remarked that the Republicans “were not obstructionists in the process.”

Mr. Bowles wrote in his column that we need to “face up to this growing (debt) problem and put politics aside and pull together, not apart.” I agree. However, after witnessing King’s budgeting tactics firsthand, I’m not so sure he’s the one for the job.

It was not just the tactics, but the substance, of King’s policies that troubled me.

As an appropriator and a fiscal conservative, I tried to craft budgets that put state finances in good shape not just for the present year, but for years to come. Gov. King, however, repeatedly used budget gimmicks to avoid the inevitable.

One year, he delayed tax reimbursements to small-business owners by several months to push the expense into the next fiscal year. This left struggling businesspeople hanging out to dry and made today’s problems become tomorrow’s.

There are many things Angus King did well. He was a good ambassador for Maine, helping to bring attention to our state. He always supported sportsmen and gun owners’ rights.

For the big things that I believe need to be done regarding the deficit in Washington today, however, I cannot in good conscience give him my vote.

I am glad Mr. Bowles came to visit Maine, but I don’t believe he knows the whole story about Angus King. I worked with Charlie Summers in Augusta, I know him to be a true bipartisan bridge-builder, and I feel confident in his abilities to help solve the debt crisis.

Richard Nass of Acton was a Republican member of the Maine House of Representatives when Angus King was governor.