HAMPDEN — Democrats must stop making the same mistakes. We cannot afford to act like typical politicians and run the same old divide-and-conquer campaign plan if we want to win.

As we saw in 2014 and 2016, it just doesn’t work. It’s not enough to be against someone else – we have to be for something, we have to be relentlessly optimistic and we have to embrace big ideas that will solve real problems.

We can’t be satisfied with the status quo or the tactics of typical politicians, who think the best way to win is to divide people and run negative attack ads against their opponents.

I decided to run for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin because I was outraged by his vote to take health care away from more than 100,000 Mainers and millions of Americans all over this country.

The issues facing our country are too many and too great to be satisfied with what’s happening in Congress right now.

We must make sure everyone can see a doctor when they’re sick, which is why I support Medicare for All. We must protect Social Security and our natural resources, and we must invest in our people and our state.

The list of issues that matter to voters is long, which is why I’ve developed a comprehensive plan that includes my priorities for health care, the economy, education, government reform and a long list of other areas.

As I talk to voters, those are the issues that they ask me about.

Unfortunately, there’s been little coverage of the issues this campaign season. There has been plenty of coverage of the horse race and game theory about who ranked-choice voting helps and who it hurts.

There have been snarky columns attacking me (by writers I like and respect, like Bill Nemitz) for campaign ads by third-party organizations.

And now, state Rep. Jared Golden, one of my opponents for the Democratic nomination to challenge Poliquin in the fall, is running negative ads against me.

Golden has a great story to tell about himself and his record of service. But instead of telling his story, he’s attacking me for advertising I have nothing to do with.

I’ve publicly stated, on numerous occasions, and I will do so again, that the Maine Outdoor Alliance should disclose its donors.

The campaign finance system is broken, and that’s true no matter who is doing the spending or what campaigns are supposed to benefit. We have to fix it.

Getting money out of politics is an important issue for our campaign. I support overturning Citizens United, and I support the Disclose Act, which would add greater transparency to campaign finance. We should also consider creating a campaign finance system similar to Maine’s Clean Election Act that encourages small-dollar donations, such as the Government by the People Act.

I support the Honest Ads Act, which increases disclosure requirements, and the Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act, which, as the name says, would get foreign money out of elections.

But that’s just the start. I was the only candidate in my race who joined the lawsuit to protect ranked-choice voting, a decision that has been vindicated by the courts several times.

I support ending the practice of partisan gerrymandering and restoring the protections of the Voting Rights Act, and taking robust measures to protect our elections from foreign interference. And I will work to break down barriers that keep eligible people from voting.

Campaigns run negative TV ads because they work – at least they have in the past. I was at a town hall meeting in Hancock County and the Democratic voters there had definitely seen the ads.

But to a person, they told me that we just can’t afford to tear down other Democrats – we have to rise above the tactics that have left our party divided and given us Gov. LePage and President Trump.

My top priority is beating Poliquin in the fall because his votes have hurt the people of Maine. The best way to do that is to focus on issues and ideas, to elevate our campaigns beyond the standard playbook of attack and counterattack and to lay out a bold vision for Maine and the country.

That’s the campaign I’m trying to run. It’ll be up to voters to decide if that’s the kind of campaign they will support.

 


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