Summers to keep state job during Senate campaign

PORTLAND — Maine's top election official, who's running for U.S. Senate, has a message to critics who want him to step down as secretary of state during the campaign.

Joel Page/The Associated Press

In this June 12, 2012 photo candidate and Secretary of State Charlie Summers greets supporters in South Portland, Maine, while waiting for election results. The state's Democratic Party and Maine People's Alliance said Summers should resign because of a conflict in overseeing his own election. Summers said Tuesday, June 26, 2012, he would not resign. (file.)

"They want me to resign and I'm not going to do it," Charlie Summers said Tuesday following criticism from the Maine People's Alliance and Maine Democratic Party.

The secretary of state's office administers Maine elections, and the Maine People's Alliance says Summers, a Republican, should resign because of a conflict in overseeing his own election. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, came out with its own criticism over a shortage of voter registration cards in recent weeks.

Summers brushed aside both complaints, saying his deputy, Julie Flynn, will oversee the November election as she has for the past 18 years, and that there's no conspiracy with voter registration cards. The supply of cards simply ran out, and revised cards are being ordered, he said.

Besides, Summers said, others have held the same job while running for higher office.

Maine's constitutional offices — secretary of state, state treasurer and attorney general, all of them appointed by the governor — often serve as a springboard to elected office in Maine.

Democrat Ken Curtis was secretary of state when he won election as governor in 1966 and Democrat Bill Diamond of Windham was secretary of state during his losing bid for Congress in 1994. Democrat Joe Brennan was attorney general when he ran for governor and won in 1978.

As secretary of state, Summers oversees the state archives and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in addition to elections.

He said he's taken steps to eliminate any conflict in elections. As for the voter registration card complaints, he said they seem especially petty since updated cards will be available within weeks and computer users can go online to print their own cards.

"It's much ado about nothing," Summers said. "The fact is people can still register to vote today. They (critics) are just trying to make an issue where there is none."

The Maine Democratic Party maintains that the shortage of voter registration cards was egregious. "We should never run out of voter registration cards in the middle of an election season," Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant said in a statement.

Similar criticism has been leveled in Ohio, where Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel is seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Democrats have taken to referring to Mandel as the state's "absentee treasurer."

Maine Attorney General William Schneider, who lost to Summers in a six-way Republican primary, had said he'd give up his job to devote his full attention to the Senate race, if he'd won the nomination.

But Summers said that through time management he can continue his full-time state job while campaigning for the Senate. He said he still has initiatives that relate to teen driver safety and revising the driver's education curriculum that he wants to see through.

Neither of Summers' most prominent opponents in the race to replacing retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe — independent former Gov. Angus King and Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill — is asking him to step down.

Diamond, who's now a state senator from Windham, never confronted questions of whether he should resign because he lost his primary campaign and wasn't on the November ballot. He said he used some vacation time for the primary campaign in the 1st Congressional District.

Further complicating Summers' position is that his wife is running for state Senate and that politics are far more partisan than they were a decade ago, Diamond said.

Ultimately, Summers has to decide whether he can hold a full-time job — and provide a solid accounting of his hours to critics — while campaigning for U.S. Senate. "If he thinks he can, then that's fine but the proof will be in the pudding, as they say. This is a long campaign," he said.

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Follow David Sharp on Twitter at http://twitter.com/David_Sharp_AP

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Comments

Richard Begin's picture

I'm staying on the Job Says Who? Says Charlie Summers That's Who

Why does it matter if Charlie does not resign his Post.?

I wonder who really cares one bit about this issue . Certainly Angus King would prefer that he resign . I say that because in his Capacity as the Sec of State if Charlie is as Savvy as perhaps John Jenkins or Tom Peters then he could use the office to his Advantage.

What I would be concerned about is what is Charlies Campaign really up to from a Strategic Point of Consideration ? I recall working Closely with My good Friend Governor King back in the Early Days of 1994.

Angus had a smooth Running Operation. Of Course he enjoyed the Support of the Lewiston City Council, otherwise known as the Pouligans or that was what Lillian Caron Obrien often refferred tothem as Norm Poulin,Frank Kelly, Paul Poliquin.

I think charlie Summers will wage a One Dimensional Campaign of course unless he Recruits Mr Mendros.

However I definetly think that we as the Maine Voters need to have presented to us for Our approval what the Candidates stand for and what he or She intend to do if Elected.

Now if Angus and the other Democrat Ms Dill and Charlie and Steven Woods can be up front then we will have a good race to watch.

That's what I'm thinking what do you all think?

Richard Begin's picture

won't Resign

Charlie said in a Debate earlier this Month that He was a Street Fighter.

RONALD RIML's picture

Did he tell you 'What Street?'

Of course not......

RONALD RIML's picture

Secretary of State's Office runs out of Voter Registration Cards

on Charlie Summer's Watch

and he doesn't see a problem with this???

And he's a 'Commander' in what Naval Reserve??? He needs some Command Chief Petty Officer to kick some G.D. sense back into his head!!! It appears he has forgotten to take care of 'His People' - unless that means 'Party Faithful' only.

Jason Theriault's picture

Let me fix this:

I'm gonna fix the first two paragraphs:

PORTLAND — Maine's top election official, who's running for U.S. Senate, has a message to critics who want him to step down as secretary of state during the campaign.

"They want me to resign and I'm not going to do it. It's not like I'm going to win, and have you seen the job market? No thank you." Charlie Summers said Tuesday following criticism from the Maine People's Alliance and Maine Democratic Party.

 's picture

Arrogant.

Arrogant.

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