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Charlie Summers: Your Vote 2012 Candidate Profile
04/26/2012   Reported By: A.J. Higgins
Charlie Summers, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate

There are six Republicans vying for the nomination to run for U.S Senate in Maine this fall and fill the seat being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe. Among them is 52-year-old Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers, a decorated veteran with service in Iraq, and former regional adminstrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration. As the man in charge of the state's election system, Summers has been at the forefront of efforts to discourage voter fraud and ensure the integrity of the election process, and says he wants to go to Washington to shrink the size of government.

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Charlie Summers arrived at the State House with the Republican revolution of 2010 and was easily approved by the new GOP majority as secretary of state. He had formerly served as a state senator in early 90s before accepting a staff position with U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

After a two-year stint as the U.S. Small Business Administration chief for New England, Summers staged an unsuccessful bid for the 1st Congressional District in 2008. Now, he has eyes set on the U.S. Senate.

"What you're looking at is $1.7 trillion in spending," Summers says. 'This is country is spending money and has been spending money that it does not have. We have to not only restrain spending, I think we have to cut spending."

Summers was born in Kewanee, Illinois. He moved to Maine in 1983 after graduating from the University of Illinois and became involved in his family's hotel operations in Bangor and Portland. He now lives in Scarborough with his wife and three children.

Business has been a cornerstone of Summers' life and he says he wants to take those interests to the U.S. Senate with an emphasis on affordable healthcare.

"It's important that small businesses have the opportunity to grow and succeed in this country, and one way to do that is to allow businesses as well as individuals the opportunity to buy health insurance the same way as they buy automobile insurance or home insurance," Summers says. "And that is from the lowest-cost provider anywhere in the United States, and that means allowing individuals to buy health insurance across state lines."

Generally perceived as a moderate Republican who doesn't court controversy, Summers chose to run against the grain on some issues after the Legislature elected him as secretary of state. He embraced proposals endorsed by Republican State Chairman Charlie Webster that limited or restricted ballot access in the name of preventing voter fraud.

Specifically, Summers backed a bill that prohibited same-day voter registration, which was later repealed at the ballot box. Summers continued to investigate the issue and was later have accused by several advocacy groups of trying to intimidate student voters. Summers has no regrets over last year's investigation.

"Since our investigation was initiated last summer, and to this day, we've turned over 50 cases to the Attorney General's Office," he says. "And there were many of those cases that we were unable to discuss during all this last summer because they were under investigation, and we turned them over for possible prosecution at this point in time. And I think that any time when you look at a system like Maine's border system, I think healthy things can come out of that."

University of Maine Political Science Professor Mark Brewer says Summers efforts circulate his image as a secretary of state dedicated to the integrity of the voting process should yield results from GOP primary voters on June 12.

"You know, the early kind of involvment looking at stuff about voter registration and voter fraud, I think a lot of the activist class of Republicans were very supportive of that," Brewer says. "They firmly believe that there was some inappropriate activity going on in elections in Maine and they appreciated Summers kind of trying to go after that."

While some Republicans may appreciate Summers' ballot integrity efforts, others say they expect no less. Traci Gauthier, is a Lincoln businesswoman and Penobscot County Republican chair. She has yet to make up her mind about which candidate she will support for the U.S. Senate. She says Summers was simply doing his job in looking into ballot fraud. Aside from that effort, she says he has a message that will resonate with GOP voters.

"Charlie Summers, again, is very personable," Gauthier said. "He's got good name recognition, he shares a lot of the same ideals that a lot of Republican voters would have. He's fiscally conservative. He's genuinely a very, very nice man, very competent man."

In the most recent campaign fundraising reports, Summers is in the bottom third of the GOP field with about $21,000 in total contributions. Still, he has a strong grassroots network and has racked up some of the best name recognition in early Republican polls.


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