Republican Eric Brakey is one of two challengers seeking to unseat incumbent independent Sen. Angus King next month. Maine Calling Host Jennifer Rooks asked him what he believes is the single biggest issue on the minds of Maine people.
This is an excerpt of “Maine Calling” from Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. To listen to Eric Brakey’s full appearance, click here.
Brakey: Well I think one of the biggest issues facing Maine people is the fact that, you know, we’ve made a lot of progress the last few years in our economy. We’ve made a lot of progress digging out of the recession that we’ve been in. We’ve gone from high unemployment to really low unemployment with employers searching wherever they can to hire people. We’ve gotten more jobs here in Maine but we’re still lacking the high-paying jobs that can keep our kids here. And that means we need to lift the boot of big government, of Washington, D.C., off of our economy. We need to cut taxes further. We need to get rid of the regulations that are strangling our small businesses. We need to end this practice in Washington, D.C., of them taking our money and handing it out to well-connected special interests. We need to keep more in our economy so we can create better paying jobs here.
Rooks: What, if anything, needs to be done about the partisan divide in our state and nation?
Brakey: I’m known in the Maine Senate as an incredibly principled person. I lead with my principles, which is our Constitution and liberty for all people. And I’m also known as someone who, because I follow my principles, I don’t follow party leadership, I don’t follow special interests. I follow the Constitution that I swore an oath to uphold and I will follow that to work with anyone on any areas of common ground. I have one of the most independent voting records in the Maine Senate, one of the most bipartisan. I led bipartisan coalitions to pass constitutional carry to get our 2nd Amendment rights back. Led bipartisan coalitions to reform welfare, to expand our medical cannabis laws in the state to have more freedom there. I am always someone who is willing to reach across the aisle and work with anyone on areas of common ground.
Rooks: Should access to affordable health care be a national priority, and if so, what should Congress do to ensure it?
Brakey: Absolutely it needs to be a priority. Now of course, the dispute is how do you achieve that. There are some who argue that while we need to get big government more involved in our lives, dictating our health care, running our health care system, I think that’s a road to disaster, a road to serfdom. I think the way that we get affordable health care for Maine people is we have to recognize what the problem is. The problem is the middlemen standing between us and our doctors. The big insurance companies and the big government bureaucracies. We need to empower regular people to elbow past those middlemen, restore that direct doctor-patient relationship and we can do that with things like allowing people to save their money tax free for health care costs through health care savings accounts. We can do that by giving us our freedom back to be able to buy insurance across state lines. We can do that by getting our freedom to be able to collectively bargain with insurance companies through health associations to increase our purchasing power and our leverage when we’re working to negotiate for better rates. There are a lot of market-driven solutions that we can we can focus on that will empower regular people to be more in control of their health care.
Rooks: If elected to the Senate on what committee or committees would you like to serve and why?
Brakey: I’ve served as the Senate chairman for the Health and Human Services Committee here in Augusta for the last four years and I’ve done a lot of work on welfare reform. A lot of work on increasing health care choice for Maine people. I certainly would love to work on those issues on the national level as well. I think that we do have a real health care crisis and there has been a real shortage of ideas, market-driven ideas for how we’re going to fix this. So I’d like to play a role in in that regard just as I have on the state level.
This interview has been edited for clarity.