Summers stumps in Lewiston

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Jimmy Simones, owner of Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston, left, talks with U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers on Tuesday. Summers was in town to talk about his endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

LEWISTON — The top political operative for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continued to defend television ads that denounce the record of former Maine governor Angus King, an independent U.S. Senate candidate, during a whistle-stop at a Simones' Hot Dog Stand on Tuesday.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Rob Engstrom, director of national politics for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talks with reporters outside Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston on Tuesday. Engstrom was campaigning with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers talks with Virginia Blackwell, right, and Iuie Desrosiers, left, both of Lisbon, at Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston on Tuesday.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Scenes from Tuesday afternoon's press conference and meet and greet by U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers at Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Scenes from Tuesday afternoon's press conference and meet and greet by U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers at Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers speaks to a crowd gathered outside Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers speaks to a crowd gathered outside Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers speaks to a crowd gathered outside Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston Tuesday afternoon.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Scenes from Tuesday afternoon's press conference and meet and greet by U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers at Simones' Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston.

The ads charge King with being "the king of spending."

Rob Engstrom, the U.S. Chamber's national political director, appearing with Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, said the chamber would continue to run the advertisements in Maine and that they were factually accurate.

The ads insist King left the state with a nearly $1 billion budget deficit in 2003.

King has called the $400,000 ad campaign "bunk" and has refuted the figures, noting the Maine State Constitution requires a balanced budget.

King says the deficit figure the chamber ad refers to was a "structural gap" and it's the difference between what the state wanted to spend and what it actually was able to fund.

King's campaign has distributed its own information on the gap showing that every governor over the past 14 years has had similar gaps at the close of the budget cycle, including a projected $840 million shortfall for the fiscal year ending 2011 and a $774 million shortfall for the current biennial budget year ending in June 2013.

Engstrom refused to acknowledge those numbers, saying the ad wasn't about anybody else's record but King's.

"This debate is about the United States Senate race between Gov. King, Charlie Summers and Cynthia Dill," Engstrom said. "That's what our ad spoke to. The ad was ruled true and Gov. King wants to talk about anything other than his record."

King's campaign last week released records from the state's Office of Fiscal and Program Review that show 10 of the past 14 state biennial budgets going back to 1986 had structural gaps, the figure the U.S. Chamber is calling a deficit.

Only four biennial budgets ended in the black, including the first budget under King in 2000-01, which ended with $98 million in surplus.

King, in a meeting with the Sun Journal's editorial board last week, said the numbers reflect how well or how poorly the overall economy was doing at the time.

"The guys who made that ad don't know how the Maine budget system works," King said. He said the figures are based on projected revenues balanced against projected expenditures based on everything that's in state law.

"Whether or not it's likely to be funded, has ever been funded or might be funded," it's included in the structural gap, King said. "In other words, it's a kind of wish list."

He said the analysis the ad uses assumes everything is fully funded.

"It is never what the budget ends up being," King said. "The budget is what you have revenue for. It's impossible for the governor and the Legislature to have a deficit. It's illegal; it's unconstitutional."

King said the ad distorts his fiscal record and that he's proud of the way he managed state finances during his time in office. He noted that during his tenure, Maine socked away more money in its savings accounts, or reserves, growing what's known as the "rainy day" fund to nearly $140 million in 2000.

The fund now has just over $20 million.

Engstrom maintained the U.S. Chamber's ad is factual and accused King of trying to run from his record.

"If the best that Gov. King can come up with is using words like 'structural gap' — those are Washington words," Engstrom said. "People are tired of distractions and they are tired of explanations that don't address the substance. They want to hear where Gov. King is on his record and where he is on policy."

To say King's record didn't look much different from most Maine governors' records is a distraction, Engstrom said.

"Angus King is the one who is running for the U.S. Senate," Engstrom said. "When you put your name on the ballot, you have to own the record that you have. So he may not like that and he may want to create new words that are different than the words he used at the time."

Summers did not address the matter Tuesday, instead noting that the U.S. Chamber's ad was an independent ad, not authorized or approved by his campaign. Summers' campaign staff has defended the ad as accurate, however.

King, Summers and state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, along with three other independent candidates, are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

Summers said he was in town to show his support for small businesses like Simones' Hot Dog Stand.

"I do not believe the federal government needs to enact more regulation and more taxes," Summers said. "They need to get out of the way so that entrepreneurs, people who would rather work 18 hours a day for themselves than eight hours a day for someone else — like Jimmy Simones — can do the right thing for their employees, so their employees can in turn do the right thing for their families."

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Mr. Summers has already

Mr. Summers has already proven that he is not going to tell us the truth. He said he would resign his position as Secretary of State if he won the primary, well he won and he is still Secretary of State, the same position that oversees the election process. Can we say appearance of an ethical problem? And I would like to know what he is doing to fulfill the obligation of his employment of Secretary of State while at the same time campaigning across Maine? Why is he still drawing a paycheck from the taxpayers of the State of Maine?

Richard Begin's picture

Charlie at Jimmy's

What I think Is really not what one would expect from someone like myeslf and what I have been acustomed to talk and write about.

This was a Fine Factual reporting by One of New England's Best reporters in the Buisness.Scott Thistle has seen his share of Major Political egagements in his life as a Journalist.

Now after reading this article and one previously from the Bangor Daily News this morning. I have to honestly state that Charlie when he finishe's speaking he has not really said anything of Substance.

I think it would be a poor decision to Send Charlie Summers to the Senate. Furthermore .

I think that Charlie is seeking office for all of the wrong reasons.

I believe he is just looking to enhance himself at the expense of Innocent well intentioned Mainers.
Charlie really does not have any message if he did more Folks would take him seriously.

When you stop and think about the Flap between Charlie and Olympia Snowe you have to ask Charlie. Why did you decide not to endorse Olympia for one addittional Term?

Think about the reality of Charlies existence. Without Senator's influence charlie would be no where today.

Charlie simply has no comprhemsion of Gratitude and Loyalty it really is all about Charlie.

RONALD RIML's picture

So according to Charlie Summers

We should all be working for ourselves for an 18 hour day rather than have decent employment with a forty hour work week??

And you came all the way out from Illinois to tell us this, Charlie???

Pray tell, Why????

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...