Democratic activist to seek U.S. Senate seat
May 26, 2005
The Iraq war, civil liberties, national health care and the millions of U.S. jobs lost to foreign trade are the key issues for Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jean Hay Bright of Dixmont, Maine.
Hay Bright, a wife, mother, author, political activist and commercial organic farmer, has been traveling across the state since February, meeting with Democratic, progressive and other groups, "testing the waters" for a run in 2006 for the seat now held by Olympia Snowe. In announcing her candidacy, Hay Bright said she was encouraged by the many voters -- Democrat, Green, independent, and Republican -- who agreed it was time for a new vision and new leadership in the U.S. Senate.
"It's not a matter of running AGAINST Olympia Snowe," Hay Bright, 57, explained, "I am running FOR the U.S. Senate."
"I'm running to end the war in Iraq. It was wrong to invade a sovereign country which had not attacked us and had no means or desire to attack us. And it is wrong to stay there. Our presence there is escalating the violence against our military men and women and against the Iraqi people, violence emanating from an 'enemy' that we cannot recognize nor fight. The war has drained our coffers here at home to the point that essential services, including homeland security, are under-funded and are putting our own citizens at great risk. And our status in the world community is in shambles.
"I'm running to stop the financially destructive Republican tax cuts for the wealthy, which, coupled with the hundreds of billions of dollars diverted to fund the war in Iraq, have resulted in our astonishing federal deficit and astronomical national debt. That fiscal irresponsibility is also severely impacting state budgets, including Maine's.
"I'm running to protect social security, and other programs that reflect a government that recognizes its responsibility to its workers, its elderly, its disabled, its orphans - and to its veterans.
"I'm running because it's long past time we had national health care.
"I'm running to protect what jobs we have left in this country and to restore the ones we've lost, by repealing devastating trade agreements such as NAFTA and refusing the allow new ones such as CAFTA.
"I'm running to make our nation more secure by ensuring food and energy independence, and by providing all our children with both a healthy and safe environment and an opportunity for a decent public education through the college level.
"I'm running to save human rights and civil rights from assaults such as the Patriot Act, and an Attorney General who thinks the Geneva Conventions are 'quaint.'
"I'm running to protect the federal judicial system from reactionary judges dedicated to decimating Constitutional protections and the Bill of Rights.
"And I'm running to preserve reproductive rights and the individual liberties and responsibilities such as those which are laid out so eloquently in Roe v. Wade.
"This is the vision I have for America. It is a vision I believe most Mainers share. But that vision is under attack by the Bush Administration and his extremist allies who now control both houses of Congress," Hay Bright said. "The only way we can take back our America is to vote our vision, vote our values, by voting for candidates who shares those visions and values.
"I am such a candidate. Together we in Maine can send our shared vision to the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2006," Hay Bright added.
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, the daughter of a steelworker, Hay Bright moved to Maine in 1972 with her first husband after his service in Vietnam. They carved out a subsistence homestead on land in Harborside purchased from Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the popular book "Living the Good Life."
From 1975 to 1985, Hay Bright was a reporter and later Hancock County Bureau Chief for the Bangor Daily News. After a divorce in 1979, she bought a 10-acre farm in Blue Hill across from the Blue Hill Fairgrounds and a few years later opened Hay's Farmstand. The farmstand closed in 1992 and the following year she went to work for Congressman Tom Andrews in his Portland office.
Following the death of Helen Nearing in 1995, Hay Bright served on the Board of Stewards of the newly formed Good Life Center in Harborside, until the fall of 2003. She now serves on the Board of Directors of the Maine Progressive Caucus.
Hay Bright has run for federal office twice before. She was a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1994 in the Second District primary, which was won by now-Governor John Baldacci. She also ran in the 1996 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Former Governor Joseph Brennan won that nomination.
The following year she enrolled at the University of Maine in Orono to complete the college education she had begun in the 1960s. She graduated in 1998.
Hay Bright has worked as managing editor of The Enterprise newspaper in Bucksport, as marketing manager at Common Courage Press in Monroe, and in the commercial sales division of Johnny's Selected Seeds in Albion and Winslow. Her columns and commentary have appeared in the Bangor Daily News, the Aroostook Democrat, the Bangor Broadside, and the Progressive Populist. An article about Helen and Scott Nearing, based on the research in her most recent book, appeared in The Sun Magazine last January.
She is the author of three books: Proud to Be a Card-Carrying, Flag-Waving, Patriotic American Liberal (1996), A Tale of Dirty Tricks So Bizarre: Susan Collins v. Public Record (2002), and Meanwhile, Next Door to the Good Life (2003).
She was a key volunteer in the 2004 presidential campaign of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
Hay Bright and her second husband, David Bright, have four grown children. The couple established BrightBerry Farm in 1999. The farm produces organic fruits and vegetables.