Scarborough native Charlie Summers, Maine’s secretary of state, is the current front-runner, according to recent polls. Like Schneider, he is a veteran, but his active-duty service is more recent. He joined the Navy Reserve in 1996. In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq, and in 2009–10, he served on the staff of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen.
Before his deployment to Iraq, Summers served from 2005 to 2007 as the New England regional administrator for the Small Business Administration and from 1995 to 2004 as state director of Snowe’s Senate office. And back in 1990, he became the first Republican elected to the state Senate from the 31st district.
“I not only support our troops, I am one of them,” Summers tells NRO. He also highlights his focus on small business. “As secretary of state, I lobbied successfully to establish a position within the secretary of state’s office for a small-business advocate,” he says. “In the six months that this small-business advocate has been on the job, he has been able to save money for four separate small businesses — for one of them, he saved almost half a million dollars in regulatory fines.”
“I think Congressman Ryan is right on in terms of getting spending under control,” he says. “I operate from the premise that you cannot spend what you don’t have. I did that as a state legislator. The very first bill I introduced in the Maine Senate was a bill to repeal a pay increase for state legislators.”
At the national level, Summers says, “In terms of entitlement programs and welfare spending, we need to crack down on fraud.”
Like Schneider, he opposes a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I can tell you that trying to set a deadline for when United States troops will leave Afghanistan is not the right approach to take. We can’t leave until the situation on the ground warrants. The Haqqani network is alive and well, and I think our efforts in Afghanistan are worthwhile, because that’s the area of the world that is fomenting terror.”
Summers currently has the highest name recognition of any of the candidates, and polls show him winning 28 percent of the vote; Poliquin is predicted to win 12 percent; Bennett, 7 percent; Plowman, 6 percent; D’Amboise, 4 percent; and Schneider, 4 percent. But after raising $108,000 in one month, Bennett has the most money, according to public reports. This primary is wide open.
— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.