Progressives and Tea Partiers unite behind first time candidate in Gray

Rachel Rumson for House District 67

Rachel Lyn Rumson (D), candidate for State House District 67, smiles for a selfie with her friend Lynn Gallagher (R) of the Gray Town Council. Photo courtesy of the Rumson campaign.

Whichever side of the current political divide you’re on, these days we all know deep in our guts that the other side isn’t just wrong.

They’re evil.

If they win, it’s just a matter of time before we all lose what’s left of our freedom. The future of our very civilization hangs in the balance.

Now’s the time to roll up our sleeves and fight. The kid gloves are off. It’s bare knuckles or bust. In this climate, the Vice President almost sounds stately when he says he’d like to take the Republican nominee “behind the gym” and smash his head in.

Welcome to the Thunder Dome!

Civility itself has become passe. We all know it.

But, wait…

What if that isn’t really true?

What if, as vitriolic and vicious as the presidential race has become, when it comes to the issues that matter to us most, in reality, we’re more united than we’ve ever been?

Rachel Lyn Rumson, a first time state house candidate in the little town of Gray, Maine, is finding that the reality on the ground isn’t quite as grim as what we’ve been seeing on TV.

The working class daughter of a machinist and a secretary, Rumson grew up nearby, playing in the woods near the family’s house on a dirt road in Gorham. In 1996, she received a BS in Sociology from USM, before moving away for a few years to earn an MA from the Leadership Institute of Seattle.

In the years since finishing school and returning to Maine, Rumson has made her living working as a teacher, consultant and landscape gardener, most recently working with both the Wayfinder Schools and the Falmouth public schools to establish educational gardening programs where Maine kids can connect with nature and experience growing their own food.

Rumson lives with her soulmate Mike, a carpenter, and their eleven year old son Ryan at the George Perley House, the countryside bed and breakfast that Rumson is the innkeeper of.

The family hosts visitors year round, welcoming people from all over the world onto the property they share with four chickens, three ducks, two cats and a whole lot of kale and other fresh veggies growing in their big garden.

It’s hard to escape a visit to their house without tasting Mike’s homemade venison jerky, made from the deer he shoots with his bow, or sitting down to a heaping plate of Rachel’s famous meatloaf.

They’re honest folk.

Compassionate and straight-forward, they think for themselves, standing up for the people in their community and railing against environmental destruction, governmental corruption and our nation’s greedy banking system.

A lifelong political independent, Rumson first registered as a Democrat in time to vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Caucus. She’d never really considered running for office before, she says, but Sanders inspired her to throw her hat in the ring.

By the time the summer rolled around, Rumson was on the ballot, set to square off against longtime conservative incumbent Sue Austin who has held the seat for 10 of the last 15 years.

Not one to be daunted, Rumson fearlessly set out to get to know everybody in her district, which spans across Gray, Raymond, Casco and Frye Island, meeting over a thousand of her neighbors at their front doors in the months since.

Breaking into a small town’s political scene is always an uphill battle, but Rumson’s campaign has attracted supporters from all sides.

“Rachel’s never afraid to speak up for what’s right,” says Lynn Gallagher, a Republican who grew up in Gray and has served on the Gray Town Council since 2012.

Rumson and Gallagher frequently work together, including on the town’s Planning Board where Rumson is an alternate, and despite belonging to different parties, the mutual respect between the two friends is palpable.

“At a time when so many of us are divided,” says Gallagher,  “I’ve been struck time and again by Rachel’s ability to lead. She really reaches across the aisle and brings people together to benefit the entire community.”

“It’s a little ridiculous to have so much conflict on on every issue,” agrees Jennifer Merriman, a Gray resident who co-directs the Portland Doula Collaborative and is a licensed medical marijuana grower.

“Staunch liberals, like myself, are worried about a lot of the same things as staunch conservatives,” she says. “We need to have people like Rachel who can reach out to everybody.”

Back on the right, Jack Wibby of the Southern Maine Patriots, a local political group affiliated with the Tea Party, agrees as well.

“In listening to her views,” writes Wibby, “I felt that we had much common ground. Her character and integrity are solid. No resemblance whatsoever to the Democratic candidate for president.”

Ben Chipman, who was recently nominated to represent Portland in the Maine Senate, has caught wind of Rumson’s campaign and is looking forward to the possibility of working with her in the years to come.

“I’m impressed with Rachel Lyn’s ability to bring people together to solve problems,” he says. “She is exactly the type of legislator we need in Augusta right now.”

Rob Korobkin

About Rob Korobkin

Rob is a software engineer, community organizer, teacher and musician. He can often be found at Peloton Labs, staring at his laptop, drafting diatribes and programming software late into the night.