I have watched with dismay over the last several weeks as the Courier Gazette appears to have allowed a Trojan horse past their gate. Sam Patten started as a conservative columnist writing on the general political news of the day. But over the last several weeks he has morphed into a Republican operative putting his thumb on the scale of local races, and by extension, putting the Courier’s thumb on the scale. Every few weeks he writes praising a Republican candidate, while careful not to mention what that candidate actually stands for.

Mr. Patton describes Republican Ed Thelander as “an energizer rabbit.” Not mentioned is the fact that he would take that energy to Washington D.C. to advocate for Republican priorities: ending Social Security and Medicare, ending women’s reproductive rights, granting more tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, voting against Climate change bills and helping shut down any investigation into former President Trump’s attempt to steal the election. Congresswoman Pingree has advocated for affordable health care for all, women’s reproductive rights, the environment and pocketbook issues for the working class throughout her career. I will never forget her passion, concern, and her trips to the border demanding change during that heinous time when President Trump’s border policies included ripping toddlers and young children from their parents’ arms to send them, alone, to various detention centers with no way to identify them and return them to their parents.

Mr. Patton praises Republican Scott Rocknak for having worked in Washington D.C. (in marketing as it turns out) without “sounding like a politician,” a quality that apparently outweighs the six years that Pinny Beebe-Center, Rocknak’s Democratic opponent, has spent in Maine’s citizen legislature. Her decades of community service working to launch the Homeless shelter, the Knox Free Clinic, a teen homeless shelter, the AIO food pantry, and work with restorative justice are brushed off, while Mr. Rocknak’s running his father’s boat business is somehow a perfect background for the legislature. Again, Mr. Patton fails to share what Mr. Rocknak actually stands for. When the Courier asked all the candidates their opinion on abortion, Mr. Rocknak answered in four paragraphs but never managed to say whether or not he supported a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy. He was very smooth and really good at not saying what he stands for. That Washington D.C. marketing experience at work, I suppose.

Mr. Patten’s column on Mary Anne Kinney, a Republican State Representative running for State Senate against current Senator Chip Curry, praises her for being a “steadfast advocate for farming,” especially given the concern about PFAS, the forever chemicals discovered to be contaminating Maine farmland. But Representative Kinney’s efforts did not extend to actually championing PFAS legislation. LD 1503’s banning of forever chemicals was sponsored by a Democrat and cosponsored by five Democrats, one Republican senator and Knox County’s own Bill Pluecker, an independent and farmer, but not Rep. Kinney. LD 1911, which banned PFAS containing biosolids from being used as compost or fertilizer was sponsored by Independent Representative Bill Pluecker, cosponsored by six Democrats, one Republican senator and one Republican representative, but again, not Rep. Kinney. What did Rep. Kinney sponsor? Three anti-abortion bills. They did not pass the State House of Representatives only because the majority is held by Democrats who support a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. What did Senator Chip Curry sponsor? Bills to increase broadband, heating assistance, utility affordability for electric rate payers, bills to increase apprenticeship programs in the trades, and senior property tax relief among others.

Mr. Patten is a conservative columnist; he has the right to post columns with a conservative and Republican point of view. but this new advocacy for specific Republican candidates, while obscuring their positions, seems a step too far. Mr. Patten has recently put forward that this election should be on issues, and I agree, but his advocacy for local Republican candidates is almost completely issue-free.

Let me say clearly:

If you believe Democracy is at risk. If you are against suppressing votes, against giving state legislatures the power to overturn the will of the people. Vote for Democrats.

If you believe Climate change is real and a real threat, vote for the party that believes it is real and sponsors legislation to meet this threat. Vote for Democrats.

If you believe a woman has a right to make her own health care and reproductive decisions, vote for the party that supports a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Vote for Democrats.

If you believe that Social Security and Medicare need to be protected and strengthened, not ended as put forth by Senator Rick Scott’s Republican 11-point plan. Vote for Democrats.

If you believe that people who work full time should earn a living wage that pays for the basic necessities of life: rent, mortgage, food, heat. Vote for Democrats.

If you believe in the need for high quality, affordable daycare, affordable health care, affordable housing. Vote for Democrats.

Sincerely,

Representative Valli Geiger

Rockland