Editor’s note: This is the first of two profiles of the Republican candidates competing in the June 12 primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat. The winner will face Democrat incumbent Mike Michaud in the November election.

Blaine Richardson favors term limits for congressional seats: three terms for the House of Representatives and two terms for the Senate.

“There’s nobody in this country that has a monopoly on good ideas,” said the 62-year-old Belfast Republican. “Let somebody else go to Washington with some fresh ideas.”

Richardson, a relative newcomer to politics, is running against State Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry in the primary election for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. If Richardson wins on June 12, he’ll challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, in November.

Richardson’s platform includes five objectives: term limits for congress, support for a balanced budget amendment, reform of the tax code, a repeal of so-called Obamacare and a reduction in federal regulations.

Regulations, in particular, chafe against Richardson’s sensibilities as a self-described conservative Republican with libertarian leanings.

“I want as little government as possible,” he said. “I don’t need a department of education to tell me how my kids need to be educated here in Maine, or a Department of Energy that does nothing. … They’re just eating up the resources and producing nothing.”

Richardson added that he has “latent tea party tendencies,” referring to the U.S. protest movement against certain government programs and spending.

“There’s a little tea party in everybody,” he said.

And he’s got the strong support of the Maine tea party’s founder, Pete Harring of Auburn.

“He’s willing to stand up for what’s right regardless of what the popular opinion might be. Principle is very important to him,” Harring said. “I find him to be an honest and trustworthy man.”

Running against establishment

Last month, Richardson won the endorsement of Republican Liberty Caucus, a boost that highlighted the group’s ties to well-organized supporters of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul.

Paul’s well-organized supporters orchestrated a takeover of the Maine GOP convention last month, electing their own chairman and getting a majority of Paul delegates elected to attend the national convention. Party leaders have said that Paul’s supporters violated party rules and that their 20 delegates may not be seated in Tampa.

Dave Nalle, national chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, said Richardson reached out to the group, solicited its support and filled out its survey, and “seemed very compatible with our concerns and interests.”

“I do know that we have been having excellent success with qualified candidates like Richardson running against establishment candidates in races like this in other states and I see no reason why this wouldn’t also be the case in Maine,” Nalle said.

Richardson’s political experience is limited to a few municipal appointments in Rockland and Rockport, but he contends his 30 years of experience in the U.S. Navy as a pilot, captain, liaison officer and more has prepared him for office.

“I served during the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, Haiti and this war,” he said. “I’ve briefed the most senior people in the country. I hold one of the highest security clearances you can hold.”

That’s more than his opponent, the president of the Maine Senate, can claim, Richardson said.

“The guy who’s in the way, Kevin (Raye), is a political science major, and all he’s ever done is government. He doesn’t know which end of the ship goes forward, he doesn’t know how to plant potatoes, he doesn’t have life experience. His life experience is sitting in a chamber debating with people.

“Kevin is a wonderful individual and a nice guy, but he’s never been up against a wall. He’s never made a life or death decision.”

Harring said that experience both prepares Richardson to lead and gives him an edge should he beat Raye and face Michaud, who is widely thought to enjoy support among veterans in his district. Michaud serves on the House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs committee.

Harring also said because the federal government is “spending us into oblivion,” he thinks Richardson “can eat into some of Michaud’s support among veterans.”

“I know Maine’s a relatively liberal state, but I think the people realize we have some serious problems with fiscal responsibility,” Harring said. “I don’t think he is necessarily unelectable in the general election.”

Jim Melcher, a professor of political science at the University of Maine at Farmington, said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Richardson nab a quarter to one-third of the primary vote. But Melcher thinks Raye is probably the ideal candidate for Republicans to run in the district race.

“There’s a core of very conservative voters in that district and Raye might be seen as too much of a liberal by them,” Melcher said. “But I think most Republicans are happy with Kevin Raye.”

Inspired to run

Richardson said he was inspired to run for the U.S. House of Representatives after President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31. The act, he said, violates the spirit of the U.S. Constitution and has been sharply criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It gives the president the authority to send the military to your house and detain you indefinitely for simply being what somebody might deem a threat to national security,” he said. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been on the same side of an issue with the ACLU, and they’re on this like flies on stink.

“You don’t want any man to have this kind of authority. I wouldn’t want a Republican to have this kind of authority. Heck, I wouldn’t want Jesus to have this kind of authority.”

Of the many federal regulations Richardson opposes, some of the worst come from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service and the Occupational Safety and Heath Agency, he said.

As a homebuilder, all three agencies have affected his livelihood.

OSHA is one of the more egregious, he said. The agency micromanages jobsites “ad nauseam.”

“When they show up, it’s like a government army. These guys have sidearms, and you can walk away with a $15,000 fine in five minutes,” he said.

“When you’re an officer in the armed forces, politically you’re a eunuch,” he said. “You serve all presidents irrespective of their politics.”

That’s why, “whoever comes out of this at the end, I’m going to support,” he said.

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