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Who is Tom LeDue?

I had coffee this morning with US Senate hopeful Tom LeDue, the high school principal from Springvale who will challenge US Representative Tom Allen in the June Democratic primary; the winner of that contest will face Senator Susan Collins in November 2008.

My first impression is that LeDue, 44, certainly has the capacity to give Allen a kick in the pants -- and in a best case scenario (for LeDue, that is), he could change the course of a race people had labeled inevitable. (Independent candidate Laurie Dobson could have that effect as well, if she can develop the political acumen to attract more supporters.)

LeDue will have about 60 people in 45 towns this Sunday, collecting signatures at the Democratic caucuses. He needs 2500 signatures from registered voters to get on the June 10 primary ballot. His biggest challenge right now, by his own admission, is raising cash -- after all, Allen and Collins have raised staggering amounts of money so far in this race, one of the country's most expensive.

"Our system, right now, desperately needs someone from outside the system," he says of the political landscape that he will enter for the first time as a candidate.

While he calls Allen "a good man" -- and he gave Allen a very gentlemanly heads up the week before he officially announced his intent to run -- LeDue says his comprehensive take on the issues would be a fresh perspective in Washington.

In a nutshell, LeDue is an anti-war, pro-choice, fiscally minded candidate, who advocates "local solutions to national problems." Oh, and he supports the idea of holding impeachment hearings in the House, which will almost certainly attract some Dems who are disillusioned with Allen's reluctance on that issue. Stay tuned!

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