Former Maine GOP chair seeks to dethrone King

Demi Kouzounas says immigration policy is ‘nuts’
Wed, 02/28/2024 - 10:30am

    During a campaign stop in Boothbay, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Demi Kouzounas described U.S. immigration policy as “This is nuts” during the Feb. 24 GOP caucus. Kouzounas, 68, is a child of Greek immigrants. She remembers as a child her family being so poor, the Red Cross gave her red mittens as a Christmas present. “I remember those red mittens. It’s nothing like that today,” she said. 

    She pledged to work on the immigration crisis and said it was a major part of her desire to run for U.S. Senate. Kouzounas described the border crisis as rapidly heading north to her hometown of Saco.

    She told the audience of 14 local Republicans, the Saco City Council recently approved a $14 million project for asylum seeker housing and assistance. “I have no idea how this happened,” she said. “Did I vote to use my taxpayer money for this? No. I don’t know what is going on here, but as a senator, I will find out.”

    Kouzounas recently sold her two dental practices, in Saco and Skowhegan, and is ready to devote herself to defeating two-term U.S. Sen. Angus King Jr. of Brunswick. King is an independent, but caucuses with senate Democrats.

    She described the incumbent as voting constantly against Mainers regarding immigration, small business and education.

    “I’m a lifelong Mainer. I know what it’s like to live here and raise a family,” Kouzounas said. “I know immigrants come here for a better life, but what we have now are horrors. I have questions, and I’m going to the border to find answers.”

    Kouzounas is best known to Mainers for serving three terms as the Maine Republican chairman (2017-2023). She was defeated by Joel Stetkis, a builder and former state legislator from Canaan. Kouzounas is also a former state House of Representatives candidate. She lost to long-term legislator Barry Hobbins in 2012. After losing her house race, she stayed involved in York County politics prior to becoming state GOP chairman. She is also a supporter of former Gov. Paul LePage. The two worked on creating University of New England’s dental school. 

    She is also a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and his current run at regaining the presidency. In 2016, she was one of many who established the “Make Maine Great Again” political action committee. She decided to run for senate after U.S. Sen. Susan Collins urged her to run. Kouzounas recounted the phone call between the two earlier this year. “Sen. Collins called and said she, Steve Abbott and Tom Daffron ‘think you’d be the best candidate to run against King,’” she said. After consulting with her husband and three adult daughters, Kouzounas decided to run. Her husband gave her advice. “Get in the ring, and fight like hell,” she told caucus-goers.

    Kouzanous also defined herself by asking a question. “What do you get when you combine Susan Collins and Donald Trump? Demi Kouzanous.”

    Kouzounas also praised Boothbay Republican Chairman Dawn Gilbert for her three decades of service. “Every single time I’ve ever needed anything done as party chair, I would go to Dawn. She is the hardest working person in the party, and she is still going strong at this stage in her life,” Kouzounas said.