Voters in Maine’s 1st Congressional District may have been surprised when they elected Chellie Pingree to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead of a freshman who needed to learn the ropes, they got a representative who hit the ground running on the key issues of the day, and who reflected a progressive approach to problems that plague the troubling economic climate. Rep. Pingree, the Democrat from the Knox County island town of North Haven, deserves to return to Congress.
Rep. Pingree was on the right side of the health care restructuring bill that will rein in the escalating costs that threatened to thwart small business growth. She was right to vote in favor of the stimulus package, which helped rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and held the line on unemployment. She also voted with the administration on bills that protect consumers from predatory credit card lenders and brought stricter regulation to banks. Rep. Pingree also supported an energy bill that has yet to find favor in the Senate.
Most of those positions are, at the moment, out of favor with the electorate, an electorate that is weary of the deep recession and wary of an activist government that seems unable to improve the economy. And Rep. Pingree’s Republican opponent, energy entrepreneur Dean Scontras, has hit upon the overwhelming black cloud hovering over voters this year — the federal debt and deficit. He correctly argues that “Mainers aren’t liberal when it comes to spending.”
Rep. Pingree, though decidedly progressive, said she brings a common sense, “what’s good for the economy, what’s good for the environment” approach to governing, rather than an ideological view. She, too, is concerned about the spending. “There is an eye on it. It’s painful, but we have to invest more in our economy,” she said. And she is correct in noting that in the previous eight years, the debt grew by leaps and bounds.
Rep. Pingree has been a visible player in the big debates of the last two years. She has earned a reputation as a persuasive lawmaker who thinks about Maine, thinks about how the federal government can help grow 21st century businesses and above all is a pragmatist. She deserves another term.