July 17, 2012

Dill to speak her mind in Maine U.S. Senate race

The Associated Press

PORTLAND — Despite Maine's long hunting tradition, she rebuked the National Rifle Association. In the face of loud opposition, she wants to consider a national park in northern Maine. While her fellow Democrats celebrated a presidential visit, she chose to protest against big money in politics.

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In this June 12, 2012 photo, Maine Sen. Cynthia Dill claims victory in the race for the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate, at a Democratic "Victory Party" at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine. Dill says thereís nothing to lose for standing up for what you believe when youíre the underdog. And sheís still an underdog in the U.S. Senate race, even after winning a decisive victory in the four-way Democratic primary. (AP Photo/The Bangor Daily News, Christopher Cousins)

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Cynthia Dill, who won a decisive victory in the U.S. Senate primary, isn't afraid to speak her mind on thorny issues, even those that risk alienating some voters.

"There's not a lot to lose for standing for what you believe in when you're the underdog. I don't see what the gain is to try to please everyone, pandering to whichever way the wind blows," she said.

Despite her victory, Dill remains an underdog in the campaign for the Senate seat that's being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe, who chose not to seek re-election.

Both Dill and Republican nominee Charlie Summers face a challenge against well-known former two-term Gov. Angus King, one of four independents on the November ballot.

Dill's top campaign issues are jobs and the economy, making health care more affordable and accessible, and "economic and social justice." She thinks the federal government has a role to play by directing money toward education, infrastructure, and research and development.

Critics call her ultra-liberal. She calls herself a progressive.

She's no shrinking violet.

Dill describes the National Rifle Association as a "special interest" and said she's for reasonable gun regulations in a state where domestic violence remains a big problem for law enforcement.

As for a national park, even though many people around Millinocket oppose it, she says it's smart for the state to at least study the idea.

"The park represents an opportunity for jobs and diversifying the economy, and applying values that I think are Maine values: public space, philanthropy, parks, access to nature, ecotourism, research, business opportunities," she said. "There's just something so fundamentally American about national parks."

And then there's big money in politics.

For the record, Dill supports President Barack Obama and believes he's done great things. Nonetheless, while Obama was dining with campaign contributors at the Portland Museum of Art on March 30, Dill was across the street in a "free speech zone" near Occupy Maine demonstrators.

Dill didn't join in the drum-thumping Occupy demonstration, but she was there to voice her own concerns about the corrupting influence of money in politics.

She said she respects the Occupy movement. "In Maine, I thought it was a great example that the First Amendment is alive and breathing," Dill said.

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said Dill attaches herself to "far-left issues" and that it's her type of views that has led to the declining influence of the Democratic party in Maine and the party losing control of the Legislature and the governor's seat.

"She is the perfect poster child of the Maine Democratic Party," Webster said. "Liberal, pro-welfare, pro-government, anti-gun, national park up north, gay marriage. I can't think of anybody who better epitomizes what the Maine Democratic Party is all about," Webster said.

Dill is a relative newcomer to politics, and she's on the move. In just eight years, she's gone from her local town council to the state House to the state Senate.

Now she's the Democratic nominee in a race that could shift the balance of power in the Senate, where Democrats currently hold a 51-47 majority with two independents who caucus with them.

(Continued on page 2)

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