PORTLAND, Maine — In the race for U.S. Senate, three leading candidates get virtually all of the attention: independent former Gov. Angus King, Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill.
There are three other candidates, however. None are given much of a chance in the race to succeed Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. Their names have even been left off many of the polls in the race. But they’d like a little attention, too.
Yarmouth businessman Steve Woods describes them as “the others,” which is the way he, Andrew Ian Dodge and Danny Dalton are commonly referred to news stories, as in the “three other candidates in the race.”
As the owner of a successful business, and town council chairman in Yarmouth, Woods feels that he deserves greater consideration than he’s been given by the media.
“I am the only candidate for U.S. Senate here in Maine that actually owns multiple businesses and has created many, many jobs for Mainers. Every other Senate candidate talks with hyperbole about ‘creating jobs’ — today I actually created a few,” he said. He said he paid more taxes last year than the other five combined.
But with so many candidates, he said, he’s been relegated to the “kids table” with Dodge and Dalton, neither of whom have held elected office.
But all three collected enough signatures to get onto the ballot and have their own ideas about how to fix the country’s problems.
Dodge, a tea party activist, libertarian, freelance writer, rocker and “cyberpunk,” wants to reduce government intrusion in people’s lives.
Dalton, a military veteran and former drug agent, is campaigning on the theme of eliminating wasteful spending and government mismanagement.
Dalton, 56, of Brunswick, brings a unique resume, having served in both the Army and the Air Force and worked for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. His jobs have taken him around the world. In Iraq, he worked as a private contractor to provide security for the State Department.
A native of upstate New York, he moved to Maine in 2009. He has a retail store in Bath and a stuffed-toy manufacturing business, which he describes a hobby.
Over the years, Dalton watched in frustration as the government agencies’ failure to communicate allowed drug suspects and terrorists to remain free. At times, he said his tips were ignored by federal agencies.
“It is extremely important that our next senator is capable of identifying the waste and mismanagement in as many areas of our government as possible. I have personally witnessed many examples of gross mismanagement and waste that should be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.
Dodge, who has been a voice for the tea party, said his No. 1 campaign theme is to dial back government interference in people’s lives. “We need to turn back from the brink. The economy will not grow as much as we need as a nation until we severely cut back the tentacles of government,” said Dodge, 44, of Harpswell.
He said excessive taxation and regulation are “killing our economy.”
“The stimuli and bailouts were colossal failures. We must allow companies of any size to go bust and work their way through the bankruptcy system. We need to reduce taxes on all Americans and businesses of whatever size they are. The U.S. government is too large and is attacking like a leech holding the nation back from prosperity,” he said.
Woods, for his part, owns six marketing companies, collectively known as TideSmart, which are located on a campus in Falmouth, just north of Portland. One of them, Promerica Health, is a company that specializes in mobile health programs and health screenings.
While others say Congress is broken, Woods said people want to blame all the problems on government when they should be taking ownership of government.
People need to be selecting the best people to run for office and to make decisions that are best for the nation, not the political parties, he said.
“As the ‘owners’ of our democracy, we can no longer blame government as an institution, or our leaders, selected by ourselves, for the problems we face as Mainers and as Americans. Ultimately, the problem is us,” he said.