Friday, December 6, 2013
Eighth in a series profiling the candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Maine Republican Olympia Snowe.
ASK A QUESTION
MATTHEW DUNLAP will answer your questions live online at pressherald.com today at noon.
HOME: Old Town
FAMILY: Married to Michelle Dunphy; one daughter, Emily, 11
OCCUPATION: Self-employed writer and campaigning full time.
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in history, 1987, University of Maine; master's degree in English, 1994, University of Maine
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Maine House of Representatives 1996-2004; Maine Secretary of State 2005-2010
ON THE ISSUES
• Do you support President Obama’s health care law? Yes
• Do you support a balanced budget amendment? No
• Would you support a tax increase for the wealthy? Yes
• Would you vote to extend the nation’s debt limit? Yes
• Do you support legalizing gay marriage? Yes
• Do you support legal access to abortion? Yes
• What should Congress be doing to create jobs and improve the economy? “There is much Congress should do. Continued work on affordable access to health care is critical; too many entrepreneurs and small business owners give up and take employment with a large company just for health coverage. The Senate should give greater attention and care to the international trade agreements it ratifies, so as not to undermine domestic growth and reward companies that grow jobs in America, and Congress should also address the crisis of higher education student loan debt, which will cripple our economy if we do not address this in a visionary approach.”
ECONOMIC ISSUES: Voted pro-business 31.5 percent of the time in 2000 and 31.5 percent in 2002, according to the Maine Economic Research Institute.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: Voted pro-environment 81 percent of the time, according to the Maine Conservation Voters
LABOR: Dunlap earned a 96 percent lifetime voting record, according to the Maine AFL-CIO scorecard. rating in 2009-2010.
• Communication Workers of America, Local 1400
• Former Maine House Speaker Glenn Cummings
• Maine League of Young Voters
• Roger Roy, former chairman of the Aroostook County Democratic Committee and professor of math and business, University of Maine at Fort Kentn Former Rep. Chris O’Neil of Saco
• Ed Pert, former Maine House of Representatives clerk
• Rep. Matt Peterson of Rumford
• Former Rep. Marc Michaud of Fort Kent
• Former Rep. Sally Landry of Patten
• Rep. Herb Clark of Millinocket
A declaration by Matthew Dunlap's young daughter pushed him to run for U.S. Senate. She told him that she wanted to live in her hometown of Old Town forever -- a prospect that Dunlap says was concerning because of the area's uncertain economic opportunities.
The former Maine lawmaker and secretary of state knew about the job prospects, or lack thereof, from experience. Not long ago, after working temporarily as head of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, he expected to work nights at Pat's Pizza because he couldn't find other work.
"This is why I want to do this," Dunlap said of his Senate bid. "I want to do this for my daughter."
Dunlap, 47, is one of four Democrats who are seeking the party's nomination for the seat that opened with the retirement announcement of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe in February.
He is highlighting his middle- and working-class credentials in his campaign: growing up on a farm in Bar Harbor, working for his family's weaving and pottery businesses, and doing less-than-glamorous jobs in food service and shoveling crushed rock.
That personal history is Dunlap's most important asset in the campaign, followed by a relatively impressive resume, said Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine.
While every politician tries to make their case for being the "average guy or gal," Brewer said, it's another thing to do it with credibility.
"(Dunlap) can make the claim that he understands the economic interests and challenges of the average Mainer. That's important in Maine. That's particularly important outside of York and Cumberland counties," Brewer said.
Dunlap was first elected to represent Old Town in the state House of Representatives in 1996. He served four terms before hitting term limits. During that time, colleagues and observers say, Dunlap earned a reputation as a problem solver, an effective legislator and someone who worked well with members of the other party.
"Matt was always known for his wit, his good speaking ability and the quality of being able to laugh at himself," said Josh Tardy, a former Republican House minority leader who got to know Dunlap on Maine's reapportionment commission in 2003.
Dunlap said his biggest accomplishments in the Legislature were helping to create the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability and sponsoring legislation to create the Atlantic Salmon Commission and the lifetime hunting license.
Dunlap served on the Legislature's Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee during his four terms, and was its House chairman for three.
Contentious issues that came before the committee included whether game wardens should have police authority, the possible expansion of a coyote-snaring program, and a bear-hunting referendum.
The challenges of the committee were not about partisanship, but about getting people with very strong opinions to agree on solutions -- something for which Dunlap had a skill, said George Smith, a former executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.
Smith described one notable exception, when the alliance was pressing for a bill to extend the hunting day to 15 minutes after sunset. Dunlap vigorously fought the rest of the committee, which supported the change, because he was worried about safety.
Smith then criticized Dunlap in a magazine article, citing him as an example of how term limits produced committee leaders who didn't know how to do their jobs properly.
A rift between the men followed. But after he saw that the change did not lead to problems, Dunlap sponsored a bill to further extend twilight hunting, by another 15 minutes.
(Continued on page 2)