Charlie Summers

In the June 10 Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District, Charlie Summers stands out as a qualified candidate who has solutions to some of our most immediate problems.

Summers has more experience in government than his opponent, Dean Scontras, who has never held a political post. A Scarborough resident, Summers served two terms as a state senator and worked as state director for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

However, it’s not just his experience in government that makes him an attractive candidate. At 48, Summers has plenty of life experience that would benefit him in public office. The father of two, he’s run two small businesses, and served recently as the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration. He also served in Iraq since last October as a communications officer, returning home earlier this month. That experience would be valuable in congressional debates over withdrawing troops from Iraq. (He is opposed to immediate withdrawal and believes troop levels will need to be maintained for an additional 12 to 18 months.)

His more moderate stances on social and economic issues also make him a more attractive candidate. Summers is pro-choice, and Scontras opposes abortion. While Scontras has focused on illegal immigration as one of the centerpieces of his campaign, Summers has focused on far more pressing and timely issues – the cost of energy and health care. Summers would increase the tax incentives for people to buy hybrid vehicles, from $3,000 to $10,000, and allow people to write off the cost of their loans on their taxes. Summers would also like to make the cost of health insurance 100 percent tax deductible.

While coming up with a national immigration policy is important, particularly as it pertains to security and preventing terrorism, the high cost of gas and health care are far more immediate issues facing average families. Summers’ proposals show he not only recognizes this, but also is working to come up with solutions.

Chellie Pingree

In the June 10 Democratic primary for the 1st District seat, voters will be choosing from a crowded field. While several of these candidates have experience and thoughtful stances on the issues they will face in office, one stands out – Chellie Pingree.

Pingree has experience in Augusta and in Washington. Pingree served four terms as a state senator and spent four years in Washington as the head of Common Cause, a nonprofit citizen advocacy group, since losing a race to incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2002. If voters send her to Washington, Pingree would be hard pressed to lose her connection to what’s going on in Maine government. One of her three daughters, Hannah Pingree, is the House majority leader and in line to become speaker of the House.

Chellie Pingree gained prominence in the Legislature because of her work on Maine Rx, a program that gave the state the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for seniors. That experience working on health-care legislation, while taking on the powerful lobbying interests of the pharmaceutical industry, could benefit us all as the country continues to struggle with the high cost of health care, including prescription drugs and insurance.

Pingree also deserves credit for being opposed to the Iraq war at a time, during her 2002 race with Collins, when such a stance was a political liability rather than a benefit. Pingree is a strong leader who has been out of office since her loss to Collins, a popular incumbent who was a clear frontrunner in the race. It’s time for Pingree to get another opportunity to be a leader in this state.

Brendan Moran, editor

Chellie Pingree

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