Maine needs a U.S. senator who is “willing to stand up and not look toward the next election,” Secretary of State Charlie Summers told Newsmax TV.
“There are going to be excruciating difficult decisions to be made in terms of spending in this country,” Summers, who is among six Republicans in a wide-open primary race created by the retirement of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, said.
Summers, who served as Snowe’s state director, referenced the nation’s $15 trillion debt — which is expected to grow by $2 trillion under President Obama’s health-care plan — as a major reason for wanting to go to Washington. “We simply can't afford this,” he said.
See our exclusive interview. Story continues below
The winner of the Maine primary will face former Gov. Angus King, who is an independent in November, and a Democrat to be selected in a June 12 primary.
A Navy veteran who served on the staff of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Summers also has business experience. He served as the New England regional administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) from 2005 to 2007 before being deployed to Iraq as a member of the Navy Reserve. He also has served in Afghanistan.
Snowe’s decision in February gave Summers little time to organize, he told Newsmax. “It was almost a situation where everything that you would do normally in a campaign first, you did last – and worked your way backwards.”
Because of Maine’s strong defense industry, Summers stressed the importance of having a veteran in Washington. With such companies as Bath Iron Works, Kinray Naval Shipyard and Pratt & Whitney, “a lot of jobs are going to be at stake,” he said.
Summers then turned his attention to King, who served from 1995 to 2003 and is considered the front-runner for the Senate seat. He said King’s “reckless spending” left Maine with a $2 billion hole and is responsible for many of the fiscal issues faced by current Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
“Angus King was governor during a good economic time,” Summers said. “Anybody can be a governor when your only decision is ‘How are we going to spend the money?’ ”
“When I was in the state Senate, the state went through terrible financial difficulties," added Summers, who served from 1990 to 1994. “When Mainers who are already hurting in their own economic sense start dissecting his record, they're going to see very quickly that Angus King is really a Democrat.”
“I will be running against two Democrats in the fall,” he added.
Summers — noting how he garnered 45 percent of the vote when he ran for Congress in 2008 in a portion of the state that generally does not back Republicans — said Maine residents can look beyond affiliations when sizing up candidates.
"Mainers are noted for there independence, but it's more their independent thinking. They look at the candidates on an individual basis," he said. Residents, Summers said, will "understand that in any public office, I've stood for lower taxes, less government in their life and certainly not growiing the federal government."
The other GOP candidates in the June primary include Rick Bennett, a former state legislator who is now Maine’s Republican national committeeman; Scott D’Amboise, a former candidate for the U.S. Senate and the House; and Debra Plowman, a state senator with small-business experience.
Also running are Maine State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin; and Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider, a former Army Green Beret.
© 2016 Newsmax. All rights reserved.