Without much fanfare, Mike Michaud has helped veterans get health care services closer to home, secured funding for needed road projects and created a commission to advance economic development for Maine and other Northeastern states. This ability to roll up his sleeves, work with his colleagues regardless of political affiliation and get things done is good reason for the voters of Maine’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District to return Rep. Michaud to Congress.
Rep. Michaud has worked across a breadth of issues, but he is most proud of his work on behalf of veterans in Maine and across the country. During his tenure on the Veterans Affairs Committee, a new clinic has been built in Lincoln, and the local hospital in Houlton has partnered with the VA to provide services in that community.
An innovative complex in Bangor, which combines a VA clinic, veterans home, hospice care and low-income housing, and mobile clinic to serve veterans in rural areas are also in the works.
Economic development is another passion of Rep. Michaud. He worked for nearly four years to create the Northern Border Regional Commission, which will invest $30 million per year in economic development and job creation projects in the most economically distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.
It is modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission, which has reduced the number of distressed counties in its region from 223 to 91 and cut the poverty rate in half since 1977.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Michaud has been a tireless advocate for more federal funding for the nation’s roads and bridges, priorities that have been shortchanged to fund the war in Iraq, which he opposed, and other Bush administration priorities. In the last transportation bill, funding for projects in Maine was increased by a third.
These are tangible results of Rep. Michaud’s focus and hard work.
Rep. Michaud’s emphasis on trade as the reason for Maine’s manufacturing job loss and other economic woes is a bit one-dimensional. Trade brings lower-cost goods into the country, allowing average citizens to buy electronics, clothing and other goods they may not otherwise be able to afford, and opens new markets for Maine companies and their products. But he is right that trade agreements should be considered on their merits, not political expediency.
His challenger, Republican John Frary, admits he didn’t enter the race to win but to have fun mocking politicians. There is plenty to criticize about Congress, but without waging a serious campaign, Mr. Frary has not added to the debate. This race highlights the need for the Republican Party to build a stable of smart, capable candidates for offices beyond the state Legislature.
Rep. Michaud’s hard work and priorities serve the 2nd District well, and he deserves to be re-elected.