May 31, 2012

Election 2012: Dunlap: Credibility as 'an average guy'

By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Matthew Dunlap

Staff Photographer

Related headlines


MATTHEW DUNLAP will answer your questions live online at today at noon.


PARTY: Democrat

AGE: 47

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


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

"He recognized he was wrong," said Smith, who is a columnist for MaineToday Media's Central Maine Newspapers. "That really showed me growth and leadership."

Dunlap was Maine's secretary of state from 2004 to 2011, a time that included the controversy over driver's licenses and the federal Real ID Act. Dunlap's opposition to the federal regulations as overly sweeping and intrusive earned him an award from the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

During his tenure, Dunlap was at the center of a dispute over the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Proponents of the spending cap had submitted petition signatures to the Secretary of State's Office to get the measure on the 2006 ballot. One bundle of petitions was inadvertently left behind in a car and was not turned in until the morning of the next business day, a Monday.

Dunlap decided to accept the last bundle, which provided enough valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot. He said he believed that the relevant state law intended to guarantee that petitions were legitimate, and he was sure that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights petitions were.

His decision angered fellow Democrats. The issue ended up in the courts, where a judge found that Dunlap shouldn't have accepted the petitions. The state supreme court later overturned the lower court's decision.

"A lot of people disagreed with what I did at the time. I still think it was the right thing to do," Dunlap said. "I thought the Taxpayer Bill of Rights was terrible policy, but that wasn't the question."

When he appeared before members of the Maine League of Young Voters during this campaign, Dunlap exhibited clarity, friendliness and competency, said Nicola Wells, the organization's state director.

"Matt really felt like that right mix of vision and experience, and kind of reaching for ideals and values we really care about -- particularly things like civil liberties and other progressive issues -- and he was also very practical about those proposals," she said.

The group's endorsement of Dunlap, however, expressed reservations about his membership in the National Rifle Association. Wells said members have heard him contextualize it as a civil liberty.

L. Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College, described Dunlap as "a solid guy" who is respected in the Legislature. But Dunlap hasn't raised enough money to make an impression on the state, Maisel said.

Dunlap raised $26,126 in the quarter ending March 31, bringing his total fundraising to $82,201.

Maisel said the Dunlap campaign is "nearly invisible" and not likely to get much help from the national party, given the entry of Angus King as a strong independent candidate.

"Unless at least one Democrat or Republican demonstrates during the primary season that they're going to be someone to contend with, the national (Democratic) party is going to take a walk on this campaign."

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

Twitter: AnnKimPPH


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)