Though both Democrat Chellie Pingree and Republican Charlie Summers are strong, knowledgeable candidates with well thought-out positions on the issues, it is Ms. Pingree who should succeed six-term Democrat Tom Allen in representing Maine’s 1st Congressional District.
Ms. Pingree’s commitment to health care reform, an energy policy that gets beyond petroleum, a tax policy that fairly addresses growing budget deficits, and a foreign policy that would end a war costing up to $400 million a day will serve Maine and the nation well.
Ms. Pingree distinguished herself in four terms in the Maine Senate during the 1990s, where she rose to leadership, serving as the Senate majority leader. Though her core principles are liberal, Ms. Pingree was a pragmatic Democrat in the Legislature, working to ensure that health care reform and other initiatives eased the burden on small businesses as much as they helped middle class families.
Ms. Pingree, who hails from the small island community of North Haven in Knox County, ran a small business and served as chairwoman of the local school board there, experiences that will keep her grounded in Congress.
After leaving the Legislature because of term limits, Ms. Pingree reportedly wanted to run for governor, but Democrats rallied around John Baldacci and urged her to run instead for the U.S. Senate against Susan Collins in 2002. When Ms. Pingree lost that contest, she went to work for Common Cause, a non-partisan Congressional lobbying group committed to open and responsible government. That experience, she said, along with learning as Senate majority leader how to win over reluctant colleagues, have taught her how to work effectively with both Democrats and Republicans.
In this race, it is not the shortcomings of Ms. Pingree’s opponent that tip the scales, but rather her philosophy on the issues. Mr. Summers, who ran against Rep. Allen in 2004, has grown into a thoughtful, articulate and well-rounded candidate who should have a future in public service.
Ms. Pingree pledges to bring passion and common sense to her work in Congress, should she win, along with big ideas for addressing the nation’s daunting problems. “I don’t expect people to settle for halfway measures,” she said. That approach will serve the 1st District well.