Chellie Pingree best represents 1st District views

These 2012, file photos show Maine Republican Jon Courtney (left) who will face Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for the 1st Congressional District seat in the Nov. 6, 2012 general election.
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
These 2012, file photos show Maine Republican Jon Courtney (left) who will face Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for the 1st Congressional District seat in the Nov. 6, 2012 general election.
Posted Oct. 24, 2012, at 2:06 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, better represents the values of a majority of Maine’s 1st Congressional District’s voters than does her challenger, Republican Jon Courtney. For that reason, we endorse her for a third term.

In 2008, Pingree defeated Republican Charlie Summers for the right to succeed 1st District U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, who gave up his seat to run for the U.S. Senate. Since then, she has balanced speaking out for progressive social policies with able constituent service.

An example of the latter was seen this summer, when Pingree persuaded cruise ship companies with vessels that dock in Maine to buy thousands of pounds of lobsters at a time when an excess supply of the crustaceans drove prices dangerously low. She recognized a problem and acted swiftly to address it.

As a state legislator and as a member of Congress, Pingree has shown that taking strong positions in support of environmental and consumer protection laws can benefit the interests of Maine’s small businesses.

While Maine Senate majority leader from 1997 to 2000, Pingree played a key role in expanding the focus and success of the Land for Maine’s Future conservation program. A February 2012 study by The Trust for Public Land calculates an $11 return to the Maine economy for every dollar invested in Land for Maine’s Future projects.

Serving on the House Committee on Agriculture, she’s continued to argue persuasively for the economic value of preserving open spaces and traditional land-based businesses. Her advocacy for small farmers during bipartisan negotiations on a new farm bill appropriately attempts to achieve fairness for Maine farmers and consumers against the interests of powerful agricultural conglomerates.

Despite her outspoken opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pingree has represented the interests of the district’s defense contractors — notably Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard — effectively as a member of the House Committee on Armed Services. Her advocacy for a stronger stance against sexual assault in the military is admirable, and her anti-war sentiments have not prevented her from promoting policy changes that address the changing needs of veterans returning from multiple tours of duty.

Courtney, the current Maine Senate majority leader, has run a positive campaign based on what he calls “Main Street values.” He’s shown personal skills that are assets in achieving consensus, but when pressed for specifics about how he would apply those attributes in Congress, Courtney has rarely deviated from standard Republican Party talking points on education, health care, Social Security, taxes and the economy.

Likewise, Courtney’s stances on reproductive rights and same-sex marriage don’t align with those held by what polls and past elections indicate to be a significant majority of 1st District voters. While fixing a dysfunctional federal government so that it no longer drags down the nation’s economy represents the top priority for the next Congress, the ongoing tendency for elected officials to interfere with what should be private decisions made by private citizens elevates the importance of candidates’ positions on abortion, marriage and other social issues.

Courtney’s campaign touts his ability to find common ground with lawmakers across the aisle as a way to fix a “broken” Congress. First, he would have to find common ground with his constituents on many key issues.

Pingree’s record on social issues, spending priorities and the role of government already reflects consensus with voters in southern Maine, which makes her the best choice this year to represent the 1st Congressional District.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/10/24/opinion/chellie-pingree-best-represents-1st-district-views/ printed on December 26, 2014