Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Conservative Congressman in Maine?

As a conservative in Maine, I’ve accepted that liberals run things here - for now anyway. Most Republicans are liberals too. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are known nationwide as RINOs - Republicans In Name Only. First district Republican congressional candidate Dean Scontras, however, is different. He’s definitely not a RINO, not by a long shot. Although a young man, Dean Scontras is a small-government, conservative Republican from a mold I thought had been broken long ago in this state. There’s no one else like him running and he expects to win. He’s confident. He knows what he thinks and believes he can convince voters that he’s right. After chatting with him for more than an hour at the new Magic Lantern, I came away believing it too. If a conservative can get elected in southern Maine, Dean Scontras is that person. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but after interviewing him face-to-face, I believe he can pull it off.

Scontras is the only congressional candidate addressing illegal immigration, unless you count Ethan Strimling, who actually likes Governor Baldacci’s sanctuary-state policies. Scontras is firmly against them. He believes a crackdown on employers who hire illegals, along with a curtailment of their welfare benefits, will persuade most of them to go home.

Scontras alone is unequivocally pro-life and even supports a Constitutional Right to Life Amendment. He’d rather see the Supreme Court reverse Roe v Wade, which he considers inherently flawed. His Republican opponent, Charlie Summers, doesn’t even list abortion on his web site. As for his Democrat opponents? No need to comment.

Gay marriage? Scontras would watch how the courts deal with the Defense of Marriage Act and hopes they view it as constitutional, but if not, he would support a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Regarding national security, Dean Scontras is one of the most knowledgeable candidates I’ve interviewed including five who were running for president. He understands the threat we face and speaks about it plainly. He knows Iran funds Hezbollah and Hamas and wants Israel gone. He supports Israel’s right to exist and isn’t confident that the United Nations will do what’s necessary to protect it. He would support a joint US/Israeli effort to stop Iran should the UN continue to drag its feet. He didn’t seem thrilled about Bush’s decision to go into Iraq, but he supports the surge and seeing the policy through to victory.

Scontras believes the United States is dangerously dependent on foreign oil, but he’s realistic about how to mitigate that. “We know the Chinese government is drilling off the coast of Cuba,” he said, and he would allow US oil companies to drill under the Gulf of Mexico and ANWR. “You do the math on this, and even with all the alternative energy sources we’re talking about [cellulose-based or corn-based ethanol, etc.] it isn’t going to replace even 10% of our reliance [on petroleum] . . . I’ve doubled back on myself and said, you know, it sounds good, and Maine should take a part in [national efforts to produce ethanol with our wood resources], but is it going to resolve our reliance on foreign oil? No. It’s just not.”

He believes the Second Amendment is unambiguous - that it grants citizens the right to have guns, period. He disputes justices like John Paul Stevens who, according to Scontras, “say the Second Amendment isn’t really about self defense. It’s really about building militias. To me as a Second Amendment guy, this is a no-brainer. There are things in the Constitution I struggle with, but this is not one of them,” he said.

“Okay, so it is for personal protection?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” he said.

I asked him what he thought about Democratic efforts to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine which would force stations broadcasting conservative programs to give equal time to liberal programming. “The free market is the Fairness Doctrine,” Scontras said. “If the free market dictates something and consumers buy it, whether it’s talk radio or something else [leave it alone]. The Fairness Doctrine is inherently unfair from a fair-market perspective.”

“Why did you decide to run for run for Congress?” I asked.

He said he has always been interested in public policy. He studied it at UMO and in graduate school at Georgetown. “I went into business and I loved that - that was fun - but my wife will tell you, I can go out and campaign all day long and into the weekend, but when I was at work, it was like at five o’clock I was done. I truly love doing this.”

“The Republican Party is up against the wall right now. I think it needs some new leadership, some new voices. I’ve got some hope in the party nationally, but in this state, it’s like the Boston Red Sox of the 70s and 80s - every time the Yankees come to town everybody puts their chins down. I don’t care what kind of lead you’ve got, you know you’re going to lose in the end. That’s the leadership of the state [right now]. You’ve got to think to win first and then go win.”

“So you think you can win in the First District?” I asked.

“Oh yeah. Absolutely. I know I can win now. I’ve debated some of these folks. When it turns to the economy, you look - these people I’m running against here in Maine have had a hand in crafting this economy. According to Forbes Magazine, it’s third worst economy in the country. It’s the second most taxed state. Our young people are leaving during their prime earning years and they’re not coming back. We’ve got all the wrong economic indicators. Our entitlement programs are so big people are coming from out of the country and in the country to get [them]. We’re $200,000,000 in the hole and everybody I’m running against says, ‘Hey look - I’m an authority on the economy.’ Look what they’ve done to the economy here in Maine.”

I’ve known many politicians and my internal BS alarm is finely tuned. During the three hours with Dean Scontras, it never went off. This guy is the real deal and I believe he can win.


Anonymous said...

Well done Tom,
Mr. Scontras will have my vote.
It is time to reonsider the use of nuclear power in Maine, with Government control.
The U.S. Navy can operate its ships and submarines with a realatively accident free record, so can Maine if we keep control out of the hands of private corporations.

Bob Sharkey, Lamoine

Anonymous said...

Just a follow up on my comment of 4-23.
As Delegates to the Maine State Republican Convention in Augusta. My Wife and I listened to Mr. Scontras speech this morning and we can report that you have accurately described this person's sincere wish to provide a better future for Maine.

Bob Sharkey, Lamoine

Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Bob. Glad to hear Dean did well at the convention. Too bad he got only five minutes to speak.