Short Relief: Schneider is the best of GOP Senate candidates

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Maine Republicans have a lot of good choices to be their nominee for U.S. Senate. All of their candidates are smart and articulate. Many have impressive records of accomplishment in the private sector. Most have provided significant public service in government or the military. Several have overcome life-changing personal adversity. All are superior to the competition.

My favorite is Attorney General William Schneider, with whom I worked for several years.

Bill grew up in upstate New York. He was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish, and who is still quite a good shot. After high school, Bill went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he studied engineering and computer science; he graduated in 1981. He served in the Army and Special Forces, but his military career ended in 1985 when he was injured in an automobile accident while on-duty. It left him unable to walk. These days, he gets around quite well in a wheelchair and specially-equipped van.

After the Army, Bill owned a small security consulting firm. He went to law school and graduated from the University of Maine in 1993 with honors. He worked as a drug prosecutor for the attorney general’s office and, starting in 1998, he served two terms in the state House of Representatives representing District 85, which included Durham and parts of Brunswick and Lisbon.

Bill lives on a farm in Durham with his wife and daughter, where, among other things, they raise alpacas for their soft, warm wool.

After the terrorist attacks of 2001, Bill came to the Office of the U.S. Attorney, where he was the anti-terrorism coordinator for Maine and where he prosecuted federal criminal cases and represented the U.S. in civil actions. After Republicans took control of the state Legislature in 2010, Bill campaigned for and won the support of state legislators to become Maine’s 56th attorney general.

As AG, Bill has weighed in on several controversial issues. Under his leadership, the office defended Gov. Paul LePage’s decision to take down from the walls of the Department of Labor a mural that was perceived to be hostile to business. A federal court agreed that the governor’s act was protected government speech, just as was the decision to hang the mural in the first place.

Bill appealed a Superior Court decision that required the Land Use Regulatory Commission to conduct an additional hearing before acting on Plum Creek’s plan to develop land around Moosehead Lake. He argued that the extensive proceedings that LURC had conducted were sufficient. The Law Court agreed.

He successfully defended Maine’s sex offender registry against a challenge brought by more than a dozen sex offenders represented by three law firms.

He joined with 25 other states in a lawsuit challenging several aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate, as being in excess of Congress’ commerce clause power, a violation of the 10th Amendment’s reservation of undelegated powers, and unconstitutionally coercive.

At a time when politics has become toxically antagonistic, Bill is a guy who can make his point without being offensive. He can disagree without being disagreeable.

I have been with him at events when the press has turned their cameras and lights on him and asked questions loaded with adverse presumptions. When they insinuated that one of his decisions was unprincipled, he did not get defensive. He flashed his disarming smile and matter-of-factly explained his rationale.

That vignette perfectly illustrates why I think Bill Schneider is the best person to be the Republican nominee and our next U.S. senator. He will serve Maine and the country by bringing his well-thought-out positions to the table and engaging in an intelligent, good-natured, civil debate that will help identify the best course of action. It’s an ability our state and nation need as we confront serious problems like the deficit, health care, Social Security, financial regulation, and the struggling economy.

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Halsey Frank is a Portland resident, attorney and former chairman of the Republican City Committee.