Capitol Notebook: Debates, dollars divide 2 Republicans who hope to challenge Pingree

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The two Republicans competing for the chance to replace U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in Congress differ on the subject of debates.

Ande Smith, an engineer, lawyer and U.S. Navy Reserve officer from North Yarmouth, and Mark Holbrook, a clinical psychologist and former police officer from Brunswick, have not had many meetings leading up to the June 14 primary when Republicans will select a candidate in the First District.

“I’ve said for a long time that I won’t debate another Republican,” Holbrook said in an interview. “I won’t turn this primary season into a circus sideshow.”

Smith has criticized his opponent for his failure to debate.

Holbrook holds a Ph.D in clinical psychology, and is a former police officer who focuses on counseling law enforcement personnel. Smith, a former Navy officer, has served on submarines out of Pearl Harbor and has had many international assignments as a reservist. (He is also the husband of Julie McDonald-Smith, who has been a columnist for The Forecaster.)

Holbrook labels Smith as the establishment candidate, and Smith has raised more money, $111,000 to Holbrook’s $24,000. Smith’s coffers have been boosted by contributions from attorneys at Pierce Atwood, where he formerly helped companies navigate environmental and other regulations. His website boasts endorsements from 25 Republican legislators.

The two candidates inhabit a ruptured Republican Party, where the faithful are dealing with the Presidential challenge of Donald Trump, whose nasty campaign annihilated his primary opponents. Smith and Holbrook both plan to back the party’s “presumptive” nominee.

Holbrook says he is willing to hold his nose and vote for anyone with an “R” after his name.

“Back when 17 candidates were running, I thought you could put them in a bag and shake them, and any two that came out could be president and vice president, and you could put the rest in the Cabinet,” said Holbrook, who was impressed with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and the demeanor of Ben Carson.

Smith will accept Trump as the alternative to what he sees as the disaster of the Democratic options.

“Whoever the Republican nominee is, Hillary Clinton is so devoid of moral character, and Bernie Sanders would destroy free market capitalism and promote the mothering socialist state,” he said.

On the issues, the candidates have similar positions. On climate change, they are skeptical that the present science proves a strong human involvement in the warming temperatures.

“I am a man of science,” Holbrook said. “I think the science in this case has been manipulated, and the results written in a way to skew in favor of conclusions about global warming. “

Smith also is unconvinced, warning that “we better be sure of the causes before we undertake a fundamental transformation of the economy.”

Both candidates step back from the hard-line position on abortion that was advanced by most of the Republican presidential candidates, and accept a woman’s right to choose in most circumstances.

And both men oppose a proposal for a Maine Woods National Park, on land that Roxanne Quimby wants to donate east of Baxter State Park. Holbrook accused Quimby of having an “agenda,” although he would not specify what that agenda might be.

They both support a stronger military response to terrorism, and would unleash the country’s military power to fight ISIS in the Middle East.

Smith is already looking past the primary and focusing his attacks on Pingree, whom he calls a “shrill ideologue out of tune with what Maine needs.” He has already run television ads, featuring cartoon characters, to attack her recent visit to Cuba to promote organic farming.

“With the problems we’re facing, with terrorism among others, organic farming and curbing food waste cannot be our priorities,” Smith said.

Whoever wins the Republican Primary on June 14 will face an uphill battle against a fairly popular incumbent.

It’s also a year when many national political predictions have been proven wrong.

Portland resident Marian McCue is the former editor and publisher of The Forecaster.

  • David Craig

    Both Smith and Holbrook deny climate change is influenced by humans and both support Donald Trump. Congratulations in advance on another well deserved win, Representative Pingree.

    • msscv

      It seems that they both “support” Donald Trump because they believe Clinton is worse, and reject the climate hysteria movement driving more statist controls in the name of science, not the fact that climate changes over long periods of time.

      • JHinck

        Nice effort to make them appear rational. The problem is Trump is driven primarily by narcissism (as many Republicans have pointed out) and we need an actual respond to human-induced climate change (with or without hysteria).

    • danmaine

      If you actually post our past temperatures you will see that there is much more danger in being too cold than increased warmth. There is absolutely no scientific data that supports the hypothesis that man has had a significant influence on the climate of the Earth. We have had several extended time periods with a very thick layer of ice over our portion of the planet. How do you explain the Earth’s warming? We are at a warm point in the NATURAL cycle of our Climate, which is continually changing. Man had no influence in the massive temperature changes associated with Ice Age retreats and has minimal influence on our current warm phase.

  • msscv

    It’s not hard to identify the Quimby agenda that so many knowledgeable people oppose: She is trying to impose Federal control in the Maine woods. She wants massive wilderness restoration to permanently eliminate private property rights and economic development.

    • EABeem

      What about Ms. Quimby’s private property rights? If she want to give her land to the national park service, God bless her.

      • msscv

        Quimby has no right to impose Federal control on people who don’t want it. It has nothing to do with her “property rights”. Owning property does not mean picking which government you want to rule. Anti-private property activists trying to appeal to property rights in a political power grab to permanently eliminate private property rights is not honest.

        • EABeem

          So did Baxter have the right to give his property to the state as a state park?

  • jack bauer

    For Holbrook to declare that he “wouldn’t debate another Republican” is telling. Telling what I am not certain. But I am sure that I cannot support any candidate who holds that rather arrogant position. My vote goes to Smith.

  • GOPatriot

    Ande Smith said: …”Bernie Sanders would destroy free market capitalism and promote the mothering socialist state.” This comes from a man who chose to spend a career in the US Military, which provides comprehensive welfare state benefits that rival and surpass those of any Scandinavian country. Plus, he likely draws a generous government pension paid for by the rest of us. Did he contribute to his retirement benefits in the past? Perhaps, but since conservatives like Smith are quick to tell us “we are broke” because of our national debt, his contributions have already been spent and he is now relying on the rest of us to dig into our pockets to pay him every month.
    Sounds like socialism to me……Does Ande see red when he cashes his check every month?