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Steve Woods: Your Vote 2012 Candidate Profile
07/03/2012   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

Steve woods

There are six candidates running for the U.S Senate in Maine this fall to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe. Among them is 52-year-old Yarmouth businessman Steve Woods, who is running as an independent. Woods says he wants to challenge Mainers to become more involved in the democratic process, which he believes is broken. MPBN's State House Bureau Chief A.J. Higgins has this Your Vote 2012 profile.

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If life is truly a journey, few of its travelers have taken as circuitous a route on their way to fame and fortune as Steve Woods. Back in 1977 when, at the age of 17, after graduating from high school in Needham, Massachusetts, he took a pass on college. Instead, he found his way into what would would eventually become known as the Route 128 high-tech corridor outside of Boston.

"I started with a computer software company. There were three people there," he says. "By the time I left a year-and-half later, there were 50, and I was asked to be a convention conference coordinator. I ended up arranging conventions in Las Vegas for the computer software company and that's where I met somebody named The Amazing Kreskin."

Woods said that association with Kreskin, a professional mentalist, led to the idea of launching a Texas off-shoot of Ed McMahon's Star Search series called the Wrangler Country Star Search, which he later sold. From there, Woods began a career as a sports agent who also explored advertising marketing and promotion.

Today he is the CEO of a Yarmouth-based, six-company marketing firm called TideSmart Global, and he's part-owner of the NBA D-League team, the Maine Red Claws. For his next challenge, Woods is trying to Convince Maine voters to send him to Washington to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe--and in the process, restore passion in the form of voter participation.

"The problem is the system is broken, democracy is broken," Wood says. "It is embarassing to me as a Mainer and as an American about what we've done to our democracy. It is embarassing, it is shameful that not just in Maine, but around the country that we send people to war to give the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for us when the majority of people cannot muster up 10 minutes or 20 minutes to be involved in the civics of democracy."

Woods, a former Democrat now turned political independent, will be 53 this month. His wife Katie is a Bangor native and they have three children. Woods says his kids should have the chance to live and work in Maine if they choose. And while Maine's economy has its challenges, he says they can be overcome.

"We have a huge infrastructure and we have a relatively weak economic engine," Woods says. "That's nobody's fault. You know, we don't have to blame everything on government or former politicians, but our economic engine is relatively small, giant infrastructure. So I think we have to be smarter in terms of how we develop our economy and how we grow things. And that's one of the reasons that I want to run for the United States Senate and that's one of the areas where I think I can contribute value here in Maine."

Woods supporters say his message offers voters a clear choice.

"Where Olympia Snowe has decided to back out due to what she sees as the failure of U.S. Democracy, Steve Woods, I think, brings a fresh, new perspective," says Phil Coupe, a partner in Revision Energy and Revision Heat in Liberty that specializes in renewable energy systems.

Coupe recently took the morning off from his job to attend a Woods press conference, and he says he likes the candidate's independent spirit. Although Coupe acknowledges that Woods lacks name recognition, he believes the candidate is well-equipped for the task.

"One big advantage for Steve Woods is that he's a brilliant marketer, and I think that he'll have strong success getting his name out to Mainers who don't yet know who he is," Coupe says. "I think he has good strategies to overcome some of that lack of name recognition that exists today."

But staging a significant challenge to two major party candidates, and a field of three independents that includes former independent Gov. Angus King, will be a major undertaking for Woods, according to Ted O'Meara, a Portland political consultant who has yet to decide who he will support for the Senate.

O'Meara managed Eliot Cutler's independent gubernatorial campaign two years ago, and although he believes that an unknown with enough funding and the right message can break through to Maine's voters, it will be tough going for Woods.

"There really isn't room for two strong independents in this," O'Meara says. "And Angus King comes in with incredibly high name recognition--he really is the dominant best-known personality in this race, which is going to make it very hard for someone like Steve Woods to, number one, get known, and number two, to really differentiate himself from the others."

Woods, meanwhile, has invited King to make a pact designed to prevent either one of them acting as a spoiler in November. King has not agreed to the offer, under which one candidate would drop out if he came within 10 points of the other a week before Election Day.



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