Tea Party Takes Over Maine GOP

Maine GOP adopts a Tea Party Platform

A strong, conservative platform following Tea Party principles was adopted at the Maine GOP convention last weekend, a stunning move in a state known for its moderate Republican politicians.

The new platform praises Tea Party originator Ron Paul, and calls for many of Texas Congressman’s key issues, including the elimination of the Department of Education and Federal Reserve, a return to “Austrian economics,” and enforcement of border security.

The entire platform can be read here.

Acceptance of the platform came as a shock to even those who wrote it. “I had no inkling this would pass, and frankly we’d been told as much by people running the convention,” co-author Steven Dyer told The Christian Science Monitor. “They didn’t even make copies of it for the delegates. They just read it to them from the podium.”

Former Maine Republican Gov. John McKernan speaks at the convention

Dyer says he and the other authors are not part of the Tea Party movement, although some have been at their rallies. Rather, Dyer says that he and his co-authors became disenfranchised by the GOP’s “progressive” wing, which had “forgotten what it means to be a Republican.”

Acceptance of the Maine GOP platform coincides with Tea Party activists in Utah defeating sitting Senator Bob Bennett at their state GOP convention last weekend.

Maine has a steeped history of moderate Republican leadership. Its current senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, have been labeled “R.I.N.O”s (Republicans In Name Only) for their working with Democrats on TARP legislation, healthcare reform and Amnesty for illegal immigrants. Former Senator Bill Cohen was a member of the Clinton cabinet.

Maine GOP Conventioneer

GOP establishment was quick to denounce the newly-adopted platform. Dan Billings, who has served as an attorney for the Maine GOP, called it “wack job pablum” and “nutcase stuff.” Political consultant Chris Potholm said, “If you’re not a moderate, you don’t get elected in Maine,” and any candidate who gets the nomination should just ignore the platform.

But longtime Republican state legislator Peter Mills, a moderate gubernatorial candidate, says it’s a mistake to underestimate the sentiment that fuels the tea-party activists. “They’re very small, very vocal, and very intense, but they reflect a wider feeling of frustration, discontent, and lack of confidence in government,” he says. “The challenge is to be able to harness that anger and frustration and, once elected, convert it into significant change.”

Seven Republicans, four Democrats, and two independents are running to replace Gov. John Baldacci, who is term-limited.

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