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Kevin Raye: Your Vote 2012 Candidate Profile
05/17/2012   Reported By: Patty B. Wight
Kevin Raye, Republican Candidate

When Maine Republican Senate President Kevin Raye announced his bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat earlier this year, he positioned himself for a rematch. He and incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud battled each other 10 years ago for the same seat in a hotly contested race. Raye, who is term limited out of the Maine Senate, insists that the landscape is different this time, and believes the 2nd District is ready to elect a Republican. But first, he has to defeat fellow GOP hopeful Blaine Richardson in the June primary.

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Partisan gridlock has emerged an issue in the 2012 campaign, in part because it was cited by Sen. Olympia Snowe as the main reason for her decision to retire. Kevin Raye says he's already shown that he can work with Democrats to get things done.

Two years ago, Raye says, he was unanimously elected Maine Senate president by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. And Raye contends that his colleagues still see him as a man who can meet in the middle.

"During the final day of the session last year, there was an informal poll take in the Maine Senate, sort of like senior superlatives, like you do in high school. And I was very touched and pleased that my colleagues voted me as "most likely to influence the other side of the aisle," he says.

Even though Raye is a Republican, he says no one party has all the answers. He thinks many of the past failures in Congress stem from divisiveness. One of the biggest failures, he says, is energy policy. Or, the lack thereof.

"You know, you have sort of on the one side, arguments that it should all be about conservation, on the other side that it should all be about increased production, and the truth of the matter is, they're all right," he says. "We need a comprehensive energy policy that embraces all of those things."

Raye says everything should be on the table: wind, nuclear, domestic offshore drilling and the Keystone oil pipeline. This isn't to say he necessarily supports all of these, just that they should all be considered.

He feels the same way about the issue of health care. He thinks Congress focused too much on the politics behind the Affordable Care Act, rather than finding common ground to create bipartisan support. "Too many people in Washington sort of have blinders on. There are certain things they won't look at, won't discuss, won't even consider," he says. "I'm not in that category. I'm willing to look at, listen, discuss, consider a range of options."

Raye does have firsthand knowledge of politics in Washington. He was a top aide to Sen. Olympia Snowe for 17 years, six-and-a-half as her chief of staff. During that time, he says he saw a lot of trade agreements that have given U.S. businesses and workers a raw deal.

As to fairness in the federal tax system, Raye says it should should be simplified in a way that no one sector gets an advantage, or is punished. "I don't think we really have a problem in the country in terms of people not paying enough taxes. I think the larger problem we have in the country is spending," he says.

Aside from Raye's extensive political experience, he's also a business owner. He and his wife run Raye's Mustard in Eastport, the last stone-ground mustard mill in North America, and a family business since 1900.

"To me, he's just got the full package," says Pat Butler, president of Butler Brothers in Lewiston, an industrial product distributor.
"I think there's no one better to help deal with the issues of Maine than someone who actually runs a family business like he does. Has to do a payroll, understands the regulatory issues we face in Maine, and many of the other problems--workers comp, everything else that we deal with all the time."

Raye's experience in business and politics could play to his favor, says USM Political Science Professor Ron Schmidt. But Schmidt says it might not, and that the Ron Paul campaign movement in Maine, which took control of this spring's Republican State Convention, is evidence that the unpredictable can happen.

"An unhappiness with incumbency could wind up hurting Raye," he says. "I think this is going to be one of those elections that really comes down to turnout."

Schmidt says, as a leader in the majority party, Raye is in a good position to put his signature on accomplishments in the Maine Legislature.

Kevin Raye says his experience demonstrates his strength, and, if elected, it's a characteristic typical of Maine leaders that he'll carry to Washington.


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