by Terrilyn Simpson
Maine Senate President Kevin Raye (R-Perry) has kicked off the new year with a resolution to capture the 2nd District Congressional seat currently held by Mike Michaud.
Raye announced his bid and filed the required paperwork on January 5. The 50-year-old Raye grew up in Eastport, one of eight sons of an electrician father who was a World War II veteran, and a schoolteacher mother.
With his wife Karen, Raye still owns and operates Raye’s Mustard Mill in Eastport, touted as the nation’s last remaining traditional stone-ground mustard mill. The business has been run by members of the Raye family since 1900.
Raye served more than 17 years as a top aide to US Senator Olympia Snowe — including six and a half years as her Chief of Staff.
Re-elected to a fourth term in the Maine Senate in 2010 with 71.3 percent of the vote, Raye was unanimously elected Senate President by the Senate’s 20 Republicans, 14 Democrats and one Independent.
Prior to being elected to the Maine Senate, Raye won a four-way primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2002, then went on to capture 48 percent of the vote in that year’s general election, winning the highest percentage of votes of any 2nd District Republican in 20 years.
Maine’s second Congressional District covers approximately 80 percent of the state and is listed as the largest east of the Mississippi River, and the twenty-fourth overall.
Raye lists job creation and getting federal debt under control as primary areas of focus.
“The federal government has to do a much better job encouraging small business….encouraging job creation and job retention,”
said Raye, who criticized Michaud’s vote in opposition to repealing the provision of the federal health care reform law which would have required small business and real estate owners to file 1099 forms with the government for purchases of $600 or more. The measure was intended as a tool to allow the government to keep track of the income of outside contractors. Small business proponents were critical of the low threshold amount of the reporting requirement.
The repeal ultimately passed. Had the measure not been repealed, said Raye, small businesses would have been buried in financial data. Raye said Michaud got a rating of 0 from the National Federation of Independent Business in 2011.
Raye is also critical of Michaud’s support of President Barak Obama’s vastly increased federal debt and new level of taxation with measures such as the federal healthcare reform act.
“We’re saddling the next generation with a mountain of debt,” said Raye. “And that’s threatening America’s position as a super power…….”
Raye has not yet named a campaign staff but said he’ll run a lean operation early on, in keeping with his philosophy of not spending money unnecessarily.