He doesn't think much of traditional politicians, though, and sums up his competition this way: "I find it hard to believe that I'll be any more of a pretentious ass than some of the others who are running."

feat_senate_DannyDalton
DANNY DALTON,THE EX-COP

Dalton's a details man, as you might expect from a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who spent more than a decade chasing narcotics cartels across the globe. Also a former Air Force and Army serviceman, Dalton's approach is bold and direct.

For example, this question: "Why are we bothering to spend $700 billion on a military that can't win a war?" Much of his campaign energy is spent talking about waste and incompetence in government agencies, specifically law-enforcement and military organizations. He has reams of allegations on the tip of his tongue, with sometimes-excruciatingly exhaustive explanations.

There's also his work history. He left the DEA in 2005, objecting to ineptitude he saw throughout the government. And then he went to work for the State and Defense departments, at least some of the time as an employee of Blackwater, the controversial paramilitary company that was ultimately expelled by the Iraqi government and fined by the US State Department for misconduct, including alleged illegal arms dealing.

After seeing even more fraud, waste, and incompetence (the three may be his favorite words, he uses them so much), in 2008 he apparently became some sort of international private investigator. That effort was funded with his own money and did, he says, a better job investigating terrorists and drug-traffickers than the federal agencies tasked to do that work, including those for which he used to work.

Upon offering the information he and his network uncovered to top-level federal agents, he found himself rebuffed. (It's unclear whether that was related to his requests for reimbursement for the expenses he incurred — which he says are minuscule when compared with the costs of supporting a uniformed American soldier in an overseas combat zone.) So he took his complaints elsewhere, seeking audiences with Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. He met with their staffs, but says he was never able to talk to either of the women directly. In any case, they didn't want his information either, he says, and referred him to some of the agencies that had already declined his information.

This led him to enter the Senate race, accusing both Snowe and Collins of failing in their duties as elected officials by refusing to even look at what he was presenting.

At the same time, he took advantage of basically every chance opportunity to present US law-enforcement personnel with what he had learned. He tells the story of being stopped at a border crossing, and then trying to hand over a dossier of information on the whereabouts of an alleged Taliban commander in Afghanistan — to a Border Patrol supervisor near Canada. He continues to profess amazement that the officer was uninterested in his data.

It may stick in his craw because for a time he worked for the Department of Homeland Security's effort to get law-enforcement agencies to share information better. But he views it as part of something much larger: "That's the problem — the two parties. Everything else is a symptom of that problem," he says.

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