Charlie Summers

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Curveballs, naked emperors and BS: post-election reflections of a reporter

German philosopher Max Weber said, “Politics is the art of compromise.”

And, Weber might have added: Elections are the art of exaggeration. We at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting spent much of the spring and summer checking out the claims of the three major candidates for U. S. senate, focusing mostly on what they said they had done to fix the economy and promote jobs. What we found, with some modest exceptions, had more spin on it than a Sandy Koufax (you call look him up) curveball. But there’s more to be learned from politicians “practiced in the art of deception,” to quote the Rolling Stones, which I like to do whenever the opportunity presents itself. Now that the votes have been (mostly) counted, the TV ads silenced and the pundits (there are so many) either crowing or eating crow, we thought we’d try to find some broader meaning from our months of reporting. Continue Reading →

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Dill, Summers, King: Tough questions, candid interviews

The most important issues for voters in this election are jobs and the economy. As part of our series about the U.S. Senate race in Maine, “Setting the Record Straight,” the Center’s reporters have conducted in-depth interviews with the top three candidates about their records of job creation and economic development. Reporters Matt Drange, John Christie and Naomi Schalit pose the hard questions and track down the important details with candidates Cynthia Dill, Charlie Summers and Angus King. We videotaped those interviews, and you can see them below. Continue Reading →

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Charlie Summers interview with the Center

The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting’s Naomi Schalit and John Christie interviewed U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers on Friday, August 17. With him was Jay Martin, Maine’s Small Business Advocate. The interview focused on Summers’ record of job creation, specifically on the creation of the Small Business Advocate position. There are two versions of the video. The first is an edited version of our interview, the second is the unedited interview.   Continue Reading →

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Summers’ jobs program fails to live up to his claims of success

Republican Charlie Summers has pinned his campaign for the U. S. Senate on a vow to improve the economy and create jobs on a national level the way he says he has on the state level. As Maine’s secretary of state, Summers added a $50,000 “Small Business Advocate” in his office that he says on his campaign website shows how “investing in small businesses will create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

If elected, Summers states he will “introduce legislation that will create a national small business advocate, just like the one I successfully lobbied for in Maine who has already saved Maine businesses from undue state regulators.”

But a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examination of the business advocate’s own records tells a much more mixed story of the effectiveness of the new position that was filled last October by Jay Martin of Old Town. While Summers boasts the program is a job creator, in the 10 months the advocate has been on the job, records show few, if any, new jobs can be directly attributed to the work of the business advocate. For seven weeks this spring and summer, from June 1 to July 27, the advocate did not have a single open case, according to weekly activity reports. The records also reveal that the advocate claims credit for solving problems that others solved, suffers from legal restrictions that handicap his effectiveness and did not meet two of the six minimum requirements for the job. Continue Reading →

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Secretaries of state fashion new, activist roles

A number of activist secretaries of state are dramatically changing a once non-partisan job that involves supervising elections. Some have supported partisan legislation. Some have endorsed or advised their party’s candidates. In 36 states, the secretary of state also holds the title of chief election official. The most aggressive of this new group are Republicans Kris Kobach, 46, of Kansas and Scott Gessler, 47, of Colorado. Continue Reading →

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Unexpected could still hurt King, but current factors favor an independent

Angus King, photo Russ Dillingham, Sun Journal

Independent Angus King, running for the U.S. Senate, could benefit from the special circumstances that sometimes work for non-party candidates in Maine. In recent decades, the state has elected two independent governors and almost did so again in 2010.  The state seems to be unusually favorable to candidates running without a major party label. What are the factors that can be exploited by independents? First, the independent should run for an open seat.  When independents Jim Longley in 1974 and King in 1994, both winners, and Eliot Cutler, the near winner in 2010, ran for governor, no incumbent was in the race.  When independents ran against sitting governors in 1986 and 2006, they lost. Continue Reading →

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