March 13, 2010

Confrontation colors campaign

TUX TURKEL

— By

Kenneth Capron, House District 116 candidate

Charles Harlow District 116

Staff Writer

In presidential politics, personal attacks and attempts to link events of the distant past with future performance are part of the game. They are less common in Maine's legislative races, but they are coloring a contest in Portland, where a fiesty, self-described government watchdog is trying to unseat a well-established incumbent.

State Rep. Charles Harlow, a Democrat, is a former Portland mayor and city councilor who chairs the city's legislative delegation in Augusta. He's also a former teacher who serves on the Legislature's Education Committee and has been active in trying to preserve the city's financial position during the consolidation process.

Harlow said he wants to return to Augusta to continue working on education issues. He also said changes he helped make in Pine Tree Zone legislation has kept some companies from leaving the Portland area.

His Republican opponent, Kenneth Capron, is a former accountant and political novice who is frustrated by what he sees as waste and fraud in government. Capron, who runs a Web site called Watchdog Maine, has testified before legislative committees and proposed laws on a variety of topics. He's especially interested in uncovering alleged fraud in state government.

Capron said he got interested in politics in 2006, when the state proposed balancing the budget through borrowing. Capron said he can bring a more business-oriented, fiscally responsible voice to Portland's delegation.

''As a CPA,'' he said, ''I know that you never fund operations with debt if you plan to stay in business.''

But in confronting the political establishment, Capron isn't shy about confronting Harlow. On Capron's campaign Web site, he goes after Harlow on several fronts, from his voting record to what he considered to be an ethics violation at the polls.

Under a heading called ''Charlie's gay agenda,'' he includes a 1994 article from a conservative Christian publication that charged Harlow with indoctrinating students about homosexuality when he taught at Cheverus High School.

Harlow dismisses these attacks. At Cheverus, for instance, he said he was explaining the equal rights amendment, an issue at the time that he supported.

''Negative politics is not my thing,'' Harlow said. ''I believe losers use negative politics as their method. I will not stoop to that.''

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

tturkel@pressherald.com

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