September 20, 2010

Tea partiers cheer, size up candidates in Westbrook

Picnic, fundraisers part of gathering of constitutional defenders

By Rebekah Metzler
MaineToday Media State House Writer

WESTBROOK — Part history lesson, part community picnic, part political revolution. The Cumberland County tea party rally was a little bit of each.

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A crowd gathers not far from a “Don’t tread on me” flag to listen to speakers at Sunday’s tea party rally. The “Don’t tread on me” motto dates to the American Revolution and the resistance by colonists to British rule.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Tom and Debbie Barry of Lisbon Falls cheer for a speaker during the Cumberland County tea party rally Sunday in Westbrook. More than 100 people attended.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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More than 100 people gathered Sunday afternoon at Riverside Park in Westbrook to listen to speeches by political candidates -- including three independent candidates for governor, tea party leaders and some patriotic musical classics, such as Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA."

"We're rediscovering our Constitution and what it means," said Dean Scontras, a Republican running to unseat U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, in Maine's 1st Congressional District.

"The Constitution is actually a crowning achievement in human history in Western civilization," he said. "It was the coming together of great economic thought and the natural rights of man, and our Founding Fathers got together and forged a fantastic document and declared our freedom and independence from a tyrannical government."

The tea party movement is nationwide and grass-roots in origin, made up of several different organizations large and small. It emerged in the past couple of years as voters have grown more concerned about the ballooning national deficit.

Many people who identify with the movement believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution and would like lower taxes and less government spending.

Maine has two homegrown tea party groups, the Maine Patriots, founded by Amy Hale, and the Maine ReFounders, founded by Pete Harring.

"Our movement includes men, women and children of all races, religions, political parties and economic statuses and we are all Americans," Hale said.

Over the past year and a half, Maine tea partiers have written letters and e-mails, sent faxes, made thousands of phone calls and picketed lawmakers' offices, Hale said.

"We have delivered tea bags to our senators -- but the tyranny continues," she said. "The progressives and the media continue to mock us. Our legislators have disregarded the will of the American people. They have trampled on our Constitution. The have crammed unconstitutional laws down our throats. However, we will overcome these overwhelming odds. We are Americans."

Independent gubernatorial candidates Shawn Moody, Kevin Scott and John Jenkins also spoke at the event. Moody and Scott, both businessmen, are on the ballot. Jenkins, a motivational speaker who has served as mayor in both Lewiston and Auburn, is not, but last week launched a write-in effort.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Paul LePage, the race's frontrunner, was not at the rally, but his campaign sent Mike Hersey of Waterville to speak on his behalf.

"If you send Paul to Augusta, Augusta will not change Paul LePage, Paul LePage will change Augusta," he said.

Moody and Scott focused their speeches on sharing their biographies and business experiences with the crowd. Jenkins offered highlights of his time as mayor in Lewiston and Auburn, including successfully lowering taxes in each.

Many in the audience brought their own lawn chairs, and baked goods were on sale. The crowd included Mainers young and old. There also were two 50-50 raffles held, one to benefit the local American Legion post and another for the Cumberland County tea party.

Scott D'Amboise of Lisbon Falls received some of the biggest cheers of the afternoon as he spoke about his primary challenge to Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. Snowe, a moderate who at times votes with the Democratic majority in the Senate, is not up for re-election until 2012. D'Amboise is her only announced Republican competition so far.

D'Amboise said there are three things he loves most -- God, country and family -- and that all three were "in danger."

"All they want is our money. They don't care about us, they haven't cared about us for a long time," he said.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Sporting a Ronald Reagan T-shirt, Doug Bramley serves as master of ceremonies at the tea party rally. Maine has two tea party groups, the Maine Patriots and the Maine ReFounders.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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