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Jon Courtney: Your Vote Profile
05/08/2012   Reported By: Tom Porter
Jon Courtney, Republican candidate for the 1st Con

Republican Jon Courtney of Springvale is hoping to swap his seat in the state Senate, where he is majority leader, for one in the U.S. House of Representatives this fall. Tonight we continue our series of candidate profiles with a look at Courtney's qualifications for the job. While he acknowledges that unseating Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree will be a challenge, Courtney says Maine's 1st Congressional District does not automatically belong to the blue party.

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Your Vote Profile: Republican 1st District Candid
Originally Aired: 5/8/2012 5:30 PM

"It's not an entitlement that the Democrats own the 1st District," Courtney (right) says. "Every two years it's up for re-election and I believe that we've shown that we can work across the aisle and we can do things differently than they do in Washington. I don't think it's good enough to go to Washington and sit in your corner and not be part of the solution."

Courtney says he shares Sen. Olympia Snowe's frustration with the lack of civility and bipartisan cooperation in Congress.

Despite what he says is his willingness to listen to the other side, Courtney is solidly conservative on many issues: He's pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and he thinks the policies of President Barack Obama are failing the country, and burying Americans in a mountain of debt.

"What we're doing today in Washington is absolutely not working," he says. Courtney says government spending is out-of-control, as evidenced by the national debt that now equates to more than $50,000 owed by every single American.
"What kind of legacy are we leaving our kids unless we really try to get at this and get this under control?"

Courtney believes key to getting that under control is to scrap the Affordable Care Act, which he says has been a costly failure. He disagrees with the so-called "individual mandate" portion of the act, which requires people to purchase health insurance, and he would like to see the entire plan repealed and replaced.

"Replace it with market-based reforms, do some of the things like we've done in Maine," Courtney says. "Some of the things we've done--we've tried to create guaranteed access plans for the sickest and small groups, tried to allow us to buy health insurance across state lines. You ought to be able to go online and pull up health insurance, google health insurance, and you ought to be able to buy your health insurance. And it should be that simple, and it isn't."

Courtney is a big advocate of tax reform and says he wants to put more dollars in the pockets of ordinary Americans.
A measure recently passed by the Maine Senate aims to gradually reduce the state's income tax level from nearly 8 percent to 4 percent. Courtney says this kind of action will foster economic growth and job creation.

As for the so-called "Buffett rule," which proposes a minimum 30 percent tax rate on the highest earners, "The best thing that we can do with regards to the Buffett suggestion is let Warren Buffett keep his own money," he says. "Warren Buffett can do more to help this country by investing and creating jobs than he ever could do by writing a check to the government. The United States government has a spending problem."

Jon Courtney believes the government is correct in considering all energy options, but says that subsidies for the development of altnernative energy are not sustainable. To be viable, he says, an energy source must be able to compete in the marketplace.

In that same vein, Courtney sees the need for the Amtrak rail service to continue, but says it needs to move away from being dependent on government subsidies. He supports the controversial educational concept of No Child Left Behind, but says it needs work.

On the foreign policy side, he's been less outspoken, but says he's a supporter of the U.S. alliance with Israel. He's also said that any future decision to enter a conflict should be made by the experts, and not done for short-term political reasons.

Portland businessman and Iraq war veteran Chris Tyll thinks Courtney has the experience necessary to serve in Congress.
"I think what Sen. Courtney brings to the battle, so to speak, is 10 years of proven leadership in Augusta," Tyll says. "He makes decisions in Augusta that directly impact Maine people in a positive way."

Tyll, who's planning to enter politics himself later this year in a bid for the state Senate, is also impressed with Courtney's ability to reach across the aisle.

Amy Abbott of Portland is a full-time mom and a volunteer with the Courtney campaign. "Jon has been a long-time small business owner and a lifetime Mainer, and he's always supported the working people of Maine," she says. "And I couldn't think of anybody that would better represent us in Washington."

USM Political Science Professor Ron Schmidt says Courtney has chosen some tough political terrain on which to do battle. "It's a liberal district and he's running against somebody who has a lot of name recognition," Schmidt says.

However, given that Courtney is termed out in the Maine Legislature, Schmidt says he has nothing to lose in running for Congress. "It makes sense given the situation that he's in. But it's going to be a hard race for him to win: The last poll numbers I saw had him pretty far behind. And under the best of circumstances it's very difficult to unseat an incumbent."

Before he can take on Chellie Pingree however, Courtney has to defeat fellow Republican Patrick Calder in the June 12th primary election.


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