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Global Matters: Electing King will show Maine gets it

Opinion

Global Matters: Electing King will show Maine gets it

Let’s get right to it. Maine voters should elect Angus King to the United States Senate.

King alone among the candidates possesses the temperament, the profile, and the acumen to advocate effectively for Maine people and to continue an important tradition of independent, honorable, mature and centrist representation.

King’s positions on the major issues of the day are well-reasoned. He is inquisitive, eager to learn, and has a sincere desire to understand competing views. He is neither ideologue nor demagogue.

His centrist approach is particularly needed at this time of acrimonious hyper-partisanship. But Mainers should elect him not only because of his moderate stance on the issues.

He is the right person, in the right place, at the right time for the right job. He is likely to be effective and his impact will be positive and tangible. Here’s why:

• Gravitas. The Senate is a deliberative body whose members possess the awesome power, among other things, to approve or place a hold on lifetime judicial nominations, to ratify treaties, to confirm cabinet appointments, and to declare war. Senators play an important role in foreign relations, and may be privy to the most sensitive intelligence briefings. King has relevant international and executive experience, as well as the temperament to make wise and considered decisions. Deeply thoughtful and prudent, he would likely be an influential senator even if the Senate was not so closely divided along party lines.

• Experience. As an independent governor, King worked effectively with both parties and projected a positive and energetic image of Maine at home and abroad. He knows what it is to govern. He advocated for big ideas, some of which came to fruition (the laptop computer initiative) and some of which did not (the Compact for Maine’s Forests.) Despite King’s eight years as an independent governor, no legislator who served during King’s two terms in office has come forward to disparage his effectiveness or his leadership as governor. That silence – and the tacit respect it reflects – speaks volumes.

• Maturity. King conducts himself with polish and professionalism. He listens, considers and decides. His opinions are informed by facts, the opinions of others whose views he respects, and by his own research. He has met and had substantive discussions with presidents, premiers, prime ministers, ambassadors and others whose responsibilities demand a commensurate level of maturity and profile. He is ready for prime time.

• Ethics. King has lived and worked in Maine for nearly 40 years. Over the course of a successful career in law, business and government his reputation for integrity remains unquestioned. At a time when our institutions are under siege, the effort to push back against corrupting forces will require a voice of unquestioned ethical propriety. King can be that voice. As a legislator told me years ago, “There’s no chink in that man’s moral armor.”

• Judgment. King knows when to speak, when to remain silent, when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. His major party opponents may be sincere and zealous advocates, but one has to question their judgment. Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill ridiculed President Obama’s big-money fundraising efforts by holding a mock bake sale during the president’s visit to Maine. Republican Charlie Summers famously antagonized Sen. Olympia Snowe by endorsing her tea party rival in the senator’s primary campaign – despite Summers’ having worked for Snowe for years. You can say that these were demonstrations of pluck and independence, or you can call them ill-advised gambits reflecting poor judgment. But neither reflects an approach likely to win cooperation in the Senate.

None of this would persuade me to support King, however, if his positions on the issues weren’t reasonable and likely to benefit Maine and the country.

He supports marriage equality, is pro-choice on reproductive issues and supports the Affordable Care Act; he refuses to sign a “no tax” pledge because he understands that reducing the debt requires both reductions in spending and increases in revenue; he recognizes the importance of traditional industries, but knows the future depends upon investments in technology and efficiency; he understands that politically and economically, the world is both asymmetric and interdependent, and that we cannot abdicate our values or our role on the international stage.

In short, King gets it.

Yet, what may be even more important is that by eschewing the worst of hyper-partisanship, we can in this election show the country that Maine gets it, too.

And that, along with Angus King in the U.S. Senate, just might change everything.