Andrew Ian Dodge is challenging moderate Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe in the 2012 Republican primary. He filed his candidacy just yesterday and we had a chance to chat (quickly and online through Facebook chat) about his ideas and his campaign for Blogcritics readers.
DN: Obviously you’re not happy with Senator Snowe’s performance and are hoping many others in Maine share your dissatisfaction, but what in particular motivated you to run against her?
AID: The final straw was her voting Obamacare out of committee into a Democrat dominated Senate. Added to that she voted for TARP and all the other stimuli that drove up the debt.
DN: You’re running against a long-time incumbent in the Republican primary. Obviously you think Snowe is vulnerable, but how do you plan on breaking through the incumbency advantage?
IAD: By using all modern means at my disposal to attract new voters into the mix. She has never had a primary challenger and she has not had her actions truly questioned. I will bring all means to bear to scrutinize her time in the Senate and the harm she has done to Maine and the country as a whole.
DN: Any Senate campaign is based around national issues and how they are perceived by local voters. What issues do you plan to focus on that will resonate with the people of Maine.
AID: The taxation and regulation that are strangling small business in Maine, whether it is the five new taxes in Obamacare or the over-enthusiastic regulation from the EPA and other federal agencies. Maine’s fishing industry is suffering greatly from EPA and other federal agencies’ over-zealous actions.
DN: Maine is a state with a lot of non-conformists, but you hardly present the usual image that most people expect in a Republican politician. Is that a weakness or something you can use to your advantage?
AID: I believe it is something I can use to my advantage to attract those who have been wary of the political process due to the “cookie cutter” aspect of politicians on both sides of the aisle. I am truly an example of the original intent of the Founding Fathers that our legislators are “gentlemen” rather than professional politicians. I have not spent my entire life climbing up the greasy poll for my “chance” to run for Senate. My principles and core values have not changed since I was in college (or earlier) I have just gotten much better at articulating them.
DN: You mention college. You went to Colby in Maine, but went to graduate school in England. Do you think that having lived overseas gives you useful insights which many of our legislators lack?
AID: Yes, because I have seen the future of US governance if we go the way Obama intends. The Obama administration and the Democrats wish to turn this country into a social democratic unitary nation with very weak states (like the European Union). I have worked with people and actually countered the rhetoric of socialism. After all, I predicted that the Democrats wanted socialized medicine in the US in 2000 in my book Statism Sucks! 2.0. I know full well the effect of nationalized medicine on the individual and have witnessed the lackadaisical treatment of friends and relatives with terminal disease.
DN: You also mentioned your “core values.” Obviously they aren”t socialistic. Can you sum them up in a nutshell?
AID: Free market, limited government & fiscal responsibility.
DN: Those all seem to be economic or administrative. Where do you stand on social issues and will your positions resonate with Maine voters?
AID: I believe in personal responsibility and sovereignty. Government meddling in people’s private lives normally makes them worse. Social issues can be solved via two methods, getting government out of them entirely (especially the federal government) and allowing people to retain as much of their own money so they have more choices. The people of Maine are a very proud, independent and hardy lot, they believe in hard work and getting the job done. But they also want to left alone to their own devices. Whether it’s the lure of the sea or our forests, people in Maine want to be able to earn their crust on their own terms. Maine citizens want the government off their backs to get on with whatever they need to do.
DN: So your position on Maine’s favorite social hot-button issue – Gay Marriage – would be?
AID: If the people of the state don’t want it then so be it. The legislature must not override the will of the people. Personally I think that government should get out of the business of marriage full stop.
DN: On another specific issue. Your opponent has become famous recently for her support of the “internet kill switch” legislation which she co-sponsored. How do you like that idea?
AID: Its an outright attack on the liberties of those online. In the light of the actions of Egypt & Libya, surely giving the government more power to meddle in the internet is a bad thing? No matter whether it is empowering the FCC or this daft idea (website link). When it comes to civil liberties both on and off line Snowe is always on the wrong side of the issue. She is a statist big government control fanatic.
DN: Running a Senate campaign requires a great deal of money, even in a small state. A lot of insurgent candidates have gone outside their state and used nontraditional fundraising methods. How are you planning on getting the money you need for an effective challenge?
AID: Well obviously I won’t go into too many details, but I am working on securing funding for this race from sources both in Maine and outside the state. I have a team of adept people working on this effort who are good at what they do.
DN: In the recent gubernatorial election the Democratic candidate came under fire for raising money from outside the state. Is that a legitimate criticism?
AID: No, it comes up every year. LePage raised money outside the state as does anyone running for high office in Maine. The criticism is disingenous and petty.
DN: So far how has the reception to your candidacy been with folks in Maine and within the Maine GOP. Have you found any allies yet?
AID: Yes I have but we shan’t be revealing them until the time is apt.
DN: So you’ve had positive responses in general?
AID: Yep. My wife & mother are hearing from all sorts of people that are pleased Maine is getting a viable primary candidate & that I am going to be raising serious issues.
DN: Your opponent has found that steering a moderate course works for her in a state which is divided fairly evenly politically. How do you counter that and do you run the risk of being caricatured as a fringe candidate or an extremist?
AID: Well, Snowe & Collins like to describe anyone to their right as extremist. However, I think once we drown out the personal attacks that have been happening for quite some time & will continue, we can make the case that it is time for Snowe to go.
DN: Do you think it’s a disadvantage for a state like Maine to have two Senators whose positions are so similar? Does it leave the state’s people underrepresented?
AID: Yes, fiscal conservatives have been completely disenfranchised in this state. The politics here is more European in the fact there is a “consensus” in the establishment for big government and huge public sector.
DN: Is it a problem that you’re running against the establishment consensus which the people are presumably familiar with and not entirely unhappy with since they keep voting it in? How do you convince them that your alternative is politically viable?
AID: By every means at my command.
DN: You’re a prolific writer on various topics. Like presidential candidates, many Senatorial candidates write books to disseminate their ideas and promote their campaigns. Are you considering doing that?
AID: I am open to any offers from publishers wishing to publish my thoughts. I would love to do such a book. Although I promise not to do a book trailer which, like Pawlenty’s, promises that I will fight off aliens like Will Smith in ID4. I could whip out such a book in a few weeks.
DN: You should. I expect to see it on the featured shelf at Mr. Paperback in Ellsworth when I’m up there in June.
DN: You have an unusual and diverse background, earning a living as a musician and writer and not from a traditional 9-5 job. How would you answer critics who claim that this doesn’t represent your constituents well?
AID: I would argue that the nature of being a freelance writer/novelist/musician makes you truly aware of the economy. When people are suffering they buy less “entertainment” and other things. Advertising revenue dries up because the economy is suffering and freelance writing payment is either seriously limited or goes away completely. Many outlets either have stopped paying completely, gone under or have seriously cut back what they pay (one reduced my per piece rate by 66%). Furthermore it lags greatly behind the rest of the economy, you can tell people are truly feeling comfortable when the industry picks up.
DN: So you share their pain when they get laid off at the lumber mill?
AID: Yes… getting dropped/laid off hurts whether you are a writer, a lumberman or a fisherman.
DN: Can you name a Senator who you would be most likely to vote with regularly if you were elected?
AID: Rand & Rubio… the two Rs. The Rocker, Rand & Rubio — the voting trio.
DN: What, not your neighbor Scott Brown?
AID: Brown is more RINO than liberty minded…
DN: Thanks. I think that covers the basics. We’ll be following your campaign and maybe we can talk again as we get closer to the primary.