ORONO, Maine — Three-term state representative Jon Hinck of Portland announced his candidacy as a democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union at the University of Maine on Saturday morning.
Hinck joins Matthew Dunlap as Democrats to enter the race. Dunlap, who announced his candidacy last week, is a former state representative and secretary of state.
Both candidates aim to win Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat in the 2012 election. Snowe has held the senate seat since 1995.
Hinck, 57, is a lawyer in Portland and is married to fellow attorney Juliet Browne. He has a teenage daughter named Darcy.
Hinck said Snowe has lost touch with Mainers.
He said he is not a career politician like Snowe, who first took office as a state representative in 1973. He said he has driven a taxi, taught English in Iran, managed a movie theatre and packed UPS trucks on the night shift.
“Some say the senior senator from Maine is unbeatable because she is such a moderate,” said Hinck during his 30-minute speech. “What does that mean? A moderate is someone who holds views that are average in amount, intensity, quality or degree. In other words, in the context of the U.S. Senate, we are talking about someone squarely in the middle of the mess, squarely in the middle of a dysfunction cluster of self-important but functionally inert matter. The U.S. Senate today is going nowhere. Nowhere. We do not need someone to moderate its direction. It has no direction.”
Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor, who sits next to Hinck in the House of Representatives, also spoke during the ceremony. He said he has learned a lot from the fellow Democrat.
“Sitting next to Jon, I’ve learned that the values that drive his service are the same values that have driven his entire career,” said Goode. “He doesn’t run for office because he wants to see his name in TV ads or because he wants to be a career politician. He serves to make life easier for the underdogs and working families for our state.”
Hinck highlighted six areas he would focus on during his campaign. He targeted education, energy, financial reform, tax reform, trade and elections and campaign finance.
“[We need to] break up insurance, commercial and investment bank monopolies and drop the ‘too big to fail’ gun that is still aimed at the taxpayers’ [heads],” he said.
Hinck also aims for changes in taxes.
“The call to simplify the tax code is correct. I support it,” said Hinck. “But a simple tax code will not become a fair tax code without more. We need to return to more progressive taxes that America always had in more prosperous times including, for example, under Ronald Reagan. Today the tax burden falls on the middle class while those at higher income levels escape paying their share.
“Income from capital gains tax, money made by moving money while hiring no one, should not be taxed at 15 percent while people making money with actual labor pay a tax rate of 35 percent,” he said.
When asked why Hinck was trying to make such a big leap from state representative to U.S. senator, Hinck thought back to his New Jersey roots.
“I grew up in New Jersey and I watched Bill Bradley go from the NBA to the U.S. Senate,” said Hinck. “I had been working on matters of public policy from the age of about 25-26. And I feel as though I had been preparing myself to be able to go to the U.S. Senate.
“I actually never thought that I’d necessarily be running for U.S. Senate,” continued Hinck. “The preparation to go there was unintentional, but I think it was solid and I’m ready to do the job. Bradley made a great senator and I feel I can do the same.”
Hinck is the Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Committee on Energy. He was a co-founder of Greenpeace U.S.A., represented commercial fishermen after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska and served as chairman of the Energy Committee in the Maine Legislature.