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The Men From Maine

Our series profiling independent and alt-party candidates for seats in Tuesday’s election who have endorsed the New Progressive Alliance’s Unified Platform concludes. An introductory piece is here.

By Anthony Noel
NPA Volunteer

They’ve been down this road before, Asher Platts and Daniel Stromgren. And both will tell you: Persistence pays off.

Stromgren has an opportunity to join Maine’s John Eder as the highest elected Green in U.S. history. We’ll detail that opportunity in a minute.

Asher Platts for Maine Senate
Platts, meanwhile, seeks Maine’s District 27 senate seat, on the heels of a 2012 senate-race loss to Democrat Justin Alfond. Now, a Democrat beating a Green may not sound all that unique. But Platts got over 5,000 votes – 29 percent of the total cast – and is facing Alfond again, with what is difficult to describe as anything less than a vengeance.

Asher Platts. (If you weren’t sure, he’s a Green.)

“The wealthy elite have two parties,” Platts says. “Let them have them. The 99 percent should join forces in a broad Left coalition of Greens, Socialists, Progressives, etc., to form an oppositional power structure and mass movement that cannot be defeated.”

Heady words, and not mere – uh, PLATTsitudes.

“I’m sick of waiting for ‘permission’ to be progressive from the Democratic Party leadership,” Platts adds. “We need to run an end around on the Democratic Party and get ahead of them on progressive issues and expose them for being capitalists who advocate for the status quo.”

His PLATTSform (make it stop!):

– Institute a true progressive taxation plan at the state level, one which imposes on the rich tax rates proportional to their incomes.
– Medicare for all.
– Raise the minimum wage to $15/hr
– Legalize Marijuana in a way that benefits small growers and farmers, free of regulations making only mega-corporations eligible to participate
– Forgive Student Debt and Make In-State University Tuition-Free
– Invest in Public Transportation

Asked what distinguishes him from his opponents, Platts was ready: “I am the only candidate in this race who is a member of the working poor, and who is a member of a party that refuses corporation donations.”

And he went further, with special emphasis on Alfond, the incumbent Democrat:

“[He] has voted consistently in opposition to the legalization of Marijuana. He voted for a flat tax in 2009. I would never support a flat tax. He recently voted against banning phthalates; I believe phthalates should be placed on the list of banned chemicals. He has not been a leader on single-payer Healthcare. One of the first things I would do is reach out to groups that are fighting for single payer to assist them in organizing a statewide effort to get it done within my first term.”

Platts says he falls into the gap created by the Affordable Care Act, “where I make too much to get Medicaid yet cannot afford to buy private insurance,” and pledges to “fight for poor and working people, because I AM a poor and working person.”

Dan Stromgren for Maine House
Platts’ fellow Green, Daniel Stromgrem, is trying to claim a seat in Maine’s House with a defeat of Republican Kim Talbot, and he’s knocking on every door in the 54th District in hopes of doing it.

Stromgren greets a prospective voter.

But wait – what about the Democrat?

Though incumbent Andrew Mason breezed in the Democratic primary, he withdrew from the race. His name will still appear on the ballot, but Mason’s withdrawal makes this one a two-horse contest – one that would seem to favor Stromgren.

“I believe in preserving the character, heritage and traditions of Maine, Stromgren says. “It’s no longer about ‘crossing the aisle’ but creating a new aisle and challenging the establishment’s ability to claim ‘progressive’ ideas.”

Stromgren holds a bachelor’s degree in Education and a master’s in Clinical Social work. His centerpiece proposal is a “MaineCorps,” which, he says, will put students to work in community affinity projects while they earn credits to pay for college.

“I am also looking at policies to reward Maine-educated students for staying in Maine to work, and using ‘earned time’ to forgive loan debt.” Though he admits this is an incremental step toward the Unified Platform’s imperative of state-funded education, he says, “the end goal [is] publicly funded higher education. I just don’t think [Maine] is currently prepared to pay for college and maintain the excellence of our land grant university. The fiscal position of the state will not currently allow for ‘free college,’” he concludes, “but we can certainly assist our students. The current load of student debt is unbearable.”

Stromgren also opposes Maine Governor Paul LePage’s proposal to move to a charter school model.

“That would open up the public schools to a free market capitalist economy and puts them in competition with privately funded, outsourced schools (like many states have done with the prison system),” he wrote in an email.

“While it may save the state money in the short term, it will destroy public education.” Stromgren says. “Kids spend enough time playing video games, on Facebook – and if they go to school on-line (our Governor also likes virtual charter schools) we will have kids with no social skills.”

To reach the campaigns:

Asher Platts, Maine Senate District 27
Website: http://www.asherplatts.nationbuilder.com
email: asher.d.platts_at_gmail.com

Daniel Stromgren, Maine House District 54
Website: http://danfortopsham.nationbuilder.com
email: danfortopsham_at_gmail.com

This concludes our series profiling indie and alt-party endorsers of the Unified Platform. Monday afternoon, we’ll post our ratings of each endorser on a range of “full endorsement” to “full censure.” That piece will also link to all profiles in this series for easy reference. For more information on the New Progressive Alliance, visit our website.

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