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Crafts emphasizes business experience in House campaign

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 17, 2020
Dale Crafts is running in the Republican primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in Maine's 2nd District.

Lisbon — Dale Crafts, 61, of Lisbon is one of three Republicans running in the primary for the chance to face Democrat Jared Golden in the race for Maine's 2nd District seat in the U.S. House.

He served in the Maine House from 2009 to 2017, representing District 56, and before that was on the Lisbon Town Council. A businessman, he has owned a mailing company, storage unit companies, construction companies and was general manager of John D. Crafts Inc., a used car dealership in Lisbon Falls, according to Ballotpedia.

Injured in a motorcycle accident 37 years ago, Crafts has been in a wheelchair since. The father of six and grandfather of 14 said he is running because he has "had a wonderful life here in America and in our state," and wants to give back. He added that he is concerned about the way the country is going.

He said his top two objectives for his first term in Washington, D.C., would be to use his business skills to bring back the nation's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and to bring health care "back to a free-market system" in order to improve the quality of care and lower costs. "I'm willing to work with the other side," he said, on a free-market-based plan.

He distrusts government involvement in the provision of health care, believing that it causes costs to rise. "We need to make it very competitive with insurance companies," he said. Although he is not a supporter of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), he did allow that the act's requirement for health insurers to pay the full cost of an annual checkup and other preventive care was a good idea, saying that preventive medicine was also a good way to lower overall health care costs. He also advocated allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers and letting people purchase pharmaceuticals from Canada.

In response to a question about reducing gun violence, he said, "I'm a big, strong Second Amendment guy," adding that places with strict gun laws actually see more gun violence that those without. He said the solution to mass shootings was to spend more on mental health services. "People need help."

He said it was "frightening" to see the government's struggle to fund Social Security and Medicare, but "It's got to be an absolute priority to fund it," because people have planned their retirement around the promise that those programs would be there. Crafts said the United States should put its seniors first, even if that meant being less generous with foreign aid.

On the coronavirus pandemic, he said it was "a new thing that America was not prepared for," adding that he felt the World Health Organization had "dropped the ball" in its response to the virus. He said he wants to make sure the country is prepared with adequate stockpiles of personal protective equipment, respirators, hand sanitizer and the like. "We can't be dependent on China when we're in a crisis," he said.

He disagrees with Gov. Mills' handling of the pandemic in Maine, believing that parts of the state should never have been shut down at all, and that current restrictions should be loosened more to help struggling businesses survive. He said business owners have complained to him about losing their businesses because of the shutdown. "So we have an emergency, and we throw the Constitution out? I don't agree with that at all."

Crafts said Maine needs a strong economy in order to attract and retain workers, and to that end, he favors bolstering the state's career and technical education system beyond the high school level. He would like to see federal investment in CTE.

He said he wanted to work across the aisle to develop a deepwater port in Down East Maine, and to expand and enhance agriculture in Aroostook County, including the addition of more research and development. "I'm willing to sit down and work with anybody that has the right heart intention. ... Are they a servant or a self-server or a party-server?"

Regarding how to respond to climate change, he said the government should continue to invest in technology to reduce pollution, but added, "If it takes 100 years to screw something up, you're not going to fix it in 10 days." He expressed frustration with people who want to impose drastic solutions to solve environmental problems.

Noting that he has been endorsed by former Gov. Paul LePage, Crafts offered three distinctions he said LePage had drawn between him and his primary opponents, Adrienne Bennett and Erik Brakey: He has the requisite life experience, legislative experience and business experience for the job.

While he said he is good friends with both Bennett and Brakey, he noted that Bennett had no legislative experience and said Brakey wants to close U.S. military bases around the world, which he labeled a "radical position."

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