With the closing of the 2010 election cycle, there are have been many victories and gains to herald for our State, but there has also been a significant loss. There is no equation that can quantify the loss of knowledge, experience, and commonsense leadership that exits our fair State and, specifically, Piscataquis County with the retirement of Senator Douglas M. Smith a life long resident of Dover-Foxcroft. While the loss has been tempered by the election of a strong conservative successor, Maine will not soon see the equal of the legal and political mind of Senator Smith.
After graduating from Foxcroft Academy Class of ‘65, he received his Bachelors in International Affairs and Political Science from the University of Maine in 1969. He secured his law degree from the University of Maine Law School in 1974. It is more than impressive to note here that, while doing his post-graduate studies, Doug Smith was elected to the House of Representatives. He served from 1970 to 1976, during which time he was appointed to the Legal Affairs Committee (2 years), Appropriations and Financial Affairs (4 years with 2 as House Chair), and Joint Select Committee on Forest Resources (Chair). In 1975 he began his own private Law practice, which he operated for 5 years before merging with the Bangor based firm Eaton Peabody. He continued to practice Law for 26 years. He again entered public service as Judge of Probate from 1979 to 2006. In 2006, Doug Smith ran for Senator of District 27. He won and has served with distinction until his recent retirement this past year.
Doug Smith began his political career as a Democrat. He grew more and more uncomfortable with the anti-business and anti-private sector platform of the Democrat Party. In the early 1990’s, the weighty decision was made to leave the Democrat Party.
Upon his enrollment in the Republican Party, many would have characterized Mr. Smith as a Moderate. His strong passion for business growth and fiscal sanity soon accelerated a marked evolution in his beliefs towards Conservatism. He quickly formed a friendship and allegiance with Paul Davis, perhaps the most Conservative politician in the State of Maine. Together, they soon established themselves as one of the more powerful duos of advocacy for Conservative principles in the State.
Representative and former Minority Leader Paul Davis describes Doug Smith a good man, a wise man and one of a kind. He further describes the Senator as a gentleman who worked for the best of Piscataquis County. Senator Smith understood, Davis says, better than most what it takes to revitalize an economy and the “bitter medicine” that entails.
Representative Pete Johnson of Greenville said in my phone interview with him that he regarded Senator Smith as the “best Senator the State of Maine had”. He admired the way the Senator could analyze issues and translate solutions into ready to work legislation. Much of his work was trampled by the Democrats who were in the majority and preferred to seek out more ways to inhibit job growth, over-regulate business, and stifle the Maine economy than to create viable working solutions. Perhaps, it would be in the best interest of the new Republican majority to resurrect some of the legislation of this great legal mind whose primary passion was the betterment of his beloved State.
On a personal note, this columnist first met the Honorable Douglas M. Smith at the Piscataquis County Courthouse as a young teenage boy who came to plead his case that Maine State Troopers had unfairly targeted him for speeding. As I stood before the Judge, which is now my personal nickname for him, a certain State Trooper named Paul Davis flanked me, to my left. I had barely spoken the customary “I’ve been framed, I’m innoce….”, when the Judge looked at Trooper Davis for his opinion. Trooper Davis simply cleared his throat, the gavel slammed, quite harshly I might add, and I was unceremoniously marched out of the room to pay my fine.
It would be Senator Smith, a few years later, who would tag me with the nickname Andy Torment, to which Paul Davis maintains a gleeful sworn duty to make sure it sticks. Humor aside, I am so thankful to have Doug Smith as a friend and mentor. I am always impressed at his keen ability to immediately find the root of the problem and find a commonsense solution. His calming influence during the stressful times in campaigns was a walking training session. He will be sorely missed. I am thankful that he has promised to continue to make himself available to Piscataquis County and the State in an advisory capacity, but he is still, in the estimation of many, irreplaceable. Thank you, Doug Smith, for your sacrifice and service to Maine.