November 27, 2012

MIKE TIPPING: Returning legislator launches effort to regain House for GOP in 2014

Mike Tipping

Maine Republicans are "perceived as a party of angry white men who only help the rich at the expense of the poor" and Gov. Paul LePage has only a "slim chance" of winning re-election in 2014.

That's not my assessment. Those are the words of Republican Rep. Brian Duprey of Hampden in an email to his House Republican colleagues. The email was also an announcement that he was ending his campaign for the position of assistant House minority leader (although he said he was "confident with my experience I would have prevailed") and instead launching a new organization, made up of "seasoned veterans that know how to win elections and raise money," in order to mitigate these problems and take back the Maine House for Republicans in 2014.

He has dubbed his new group M14 (short for Majority 14) and says he'll get started right away "working behind the scenes supporting and propping up incumbents and getting opposition research together on Democrats that are vulnerable to defeat in 2014" as well as beginning to "train caucus members on how to use the power of incumbency to your advantage."

Duprey won an open-seat race in Hampden, Dixmont and Newburgh in order to return to the Legislature this year. He had previously served four terms in the House and was term-limited out in 2008. The seat was left open again when Rep. Andre Cushing made a bid for state Senate.

I personally couldn't be happier to hear about Duprey's plans to return to the center ring of the political circus. As a columnist and blogger I'm always looking for entertaining political material and Duprey has proven himself an excellent source.

In fact, I think he's the only Maine representative to be the subject of a segment on the Daily Show, which in 2005 mocked him for a bill he submitted attempting to outlaw the abortion of gay fetuses.

I'm not making that up. The bill was Duprey's clumsy and unsuccessful attempt to drive a wedge between supporters of women's rights and supporters of rights for gays and lesbians.

During his legislative career, Duprey also has submitted a bill to allow gay marriage (which he then announced he would vote against), a bill allowing pro-life and pro-choice Maine license plates and a bill renaming I-295 the "Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway". He once fought against a non-discrimination law by arguing that it would lead to male pedophiles dressing as women and stalking children in school bathrooms.

You may notice a trend here. Duprey's priorities are predominantly those of the religious right, particularly combatting gay rights and abortion. It's interesting that these are some of the exact issues that analysts on both sides of the aisle say played a large role in turning off young and female voters and led to Republican defeats nationally and in states across the country earlier this month.

In the lead-up to 2006, Duprey said a number of times that he was considering a primary challenge to Sen. Olympia Snowe because she wasn't sufficiently conservative. His bid fizzled out, although it's interesting to think what might have happened if the tea party movement had been around back then. Maybe he was just ahead of his time.

Duprey is probably the last person that should be helping to lead a party attempting to prove it's not as radical as it seems. Even the name of his new "recruiting and training team," M14, which is the designation of a rifle last in service in the 1950s and '60s, seems out of step with the current reality.

In fact, that's a point that he seems to recognize and addressed specifically in his email, saying that Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, should be assistant minority leader because he felt "having a woman in leadership is critical to helping us close the gender gap" and that she'd "be an excellent face of the Republican Party to the media." (Rep. Alex Willette, R-Mapleton, won the race instead, which means that neither party will have any women in legislative leadership positions this session.)

That's something to remember. Whatever face Republicans do put forward to the media this session, behind it are the more extreme members of their caucus, like Duprey.

So I want to thank to the people of District 39 for returning a source of humor to the Legislature, voters across the state for making sure he isn't in the majority and especially to the person or persons who forwarded me this email and shall remain unnamed. Keep them coming.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie. He writes his own blog at MainePolitics.net and works for the Maine People's Alliance and the Maine People's Resource Center. He's @miketipping on Twitter. Email to writebacktomike@gmail.com

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