BREWER, Maine — Kevin Raye cut his political teeth as a staff member for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and he agrees with his mentor that Washington, D.C., is broken.
But Raye, a four-term Republican state senator and Maine’s current Senate president, is more optimistic than Snowe about the future of Congress. All that’s missing, Raye said, is stronger voices who are willing to work with the other side.
He hopes to be one of them.
This week, Raye has been canvassing the state to build support for his candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District. His challenger, Democrat Mike Michaud, has held the seat for five terms and is seeking reelection to a sixth, but many feel this could be the incumbent’s biggest test in a decade.
When Michaud first was elected to the U.S. House in 2002, Raye was his opponent. It was the closest race in Michaud’s decade in Congress.
“I like my opponent personally,” Raye said Tuesday. “I just disagree with him about how government should be run.”
Raye pointed out that, despite Michaud’s claims that he’s a moderate, the Democrat has voted with President Barack Obama and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi far too often, including on the Affordable Care Act, which Raye opposes.
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is different now than it was 10 years ago, according to Raye. Of the 19 state Senate seats in the 2nd District, 15 are held by Republicans. Of the more than 70 House seats in the district, two-thirds are held by Republicans.
Many of those Republicans have helped turn Maine around over the last two years, Raye said, by championing regulatory reform and welfare reform and bringing “fiscal sanity” back to government. He hopes to do the same in Washington.
The district is also literally different as its boundaries were redrawn last year. A controversial plan to completely redraw the state’s two congressional districts — and making the 2nd District noticeably more conservative — was dropped by Republicans at the last minute.
Although Raye has set his sights on Michaud, he does have to win a primary in June. The other Republican in the race is Blaine Richardson, a retired Navy veteran from Belfast.
Raye has been visiting small businesses across Maine as he kicks off his campaign. On Tuesday, he visited Getchell Brothers in Brewer.