Thursday, April 17, 2014
The three leading candidates in Maine's U.S. Senate race have had their share of media attention, and then some.
U.S. Senate candidates Steve Woods, left, Danny Dalton, center, and Andrew Ian Dodge.
Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer
These file photos show Maine candidates for U.S. Senate in the November 2012 general election. Top row left to right: independent Danny Dalton, independent Andrew Ian Dodge and Democrat Cynthia Dill. Bottom row left to right: independent Angus King, Republican Charlie Summers and independent Steve Woods.
Mainers may even be relieved to see car dealers and personal injury lawyers take back the television ads after Election Day.
However, there are three other candidates, and you may have barely heard of them. Unlike Angus King, Charlie Summers and Cynthia Dill, the three men haven't mounted high-profile campaigns or raised money for television ads, and none has a realistic chance of winning or even shaking up next week's election.
But they may be the most intriguing candidates in the race.
There's Andrew Ian Dodge, a renegade former Republican and libertarian tea partier who espouses smaller government and rarely passes up a chance to criticize the leaders of his former party.
There's Danny Dalton, a former federal agent with a top secret clearance who tracked down terrorists and drug smugglers in places like Afghanistan and El Salvador and now is on a mission to expose dysfunction in the federal agencies that employed him.
And there's Steve Woods, a successful and self-assured businessman who, despite his own support for the front-runner King, is frustrated about a process that he says produces incompetent leaders and relegates a qualified candidate like him to the "kid's table."
All three men gathered the 4,000 signatures they needed to qualify for the ballot and are running as independents to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. And that's about all they appear to have in common.
'LOOKING FOR A VOICE'
Dodge, 44, was a Republican when he first entered the Senate race.
He had emerged as an articulate, unofficial spokesman for the tea party movement in Maine, and he intended to use his Senate candidacy to call out the Republican establishment and Sen. Snowe for neglecting conservative and libertarian-minded voters like himself.
Two events changed the plan.
First, Maine's Republican leaders bungled the presidential caucuses in February and alienated supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul. Dodge was so angry that he quit the party and became an independent.
A week later, Snowe announced that she would retire.
Dodge stayed in the race and became the standard bearer for Maine's libertarian movement, determined as ever to call out the Republican establishment and push for a smaller, less intrusive federal government.
"My job hasn't changed," he said recently. "There are a lot of people of my ilk who are looking for a voice, and I'm giving them a voice."
Dodge, a freelance writer from Harpswell, said his departure from the Republican Party means he no longer has to answer for his long hair, earring and trademark black suits. "It's liberating," he said.
Dodge has a degree from Colby College and a post-graduate degree in legislative politics from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. While in England, he worked for a conservative think tank with ties to Margaret Thatcher.
He represents the intellectual side, rather than the angry side, of the tea party movement. In fact, Dodge is one of the most affable candidates in Maine's Senate race.
He doesn't complain about the media coverage or lack of it, and he even thinks King did him and the other candidates a favor by getting into the race.
"I disagree with him politically, but I like him as a person. He also brings a certain amount of attention that you wouldn't normally get," Dodge said. "He's sort of the water that lifts all boats."
Seth Baker of Waterville said he was drawn to Ron Paul's libertarian ideas and started following Dodge on Twitter during the mishandled Maine caucuses. Baker, who also felt dismissed by the Republican establishment, is now a Dodge supporter and volunteer.
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