Tea party activist Gordon Colby received The Maine Heritage Policy Centers 2013 Freedom and Opportunity Award on Friday at an annual event in Portland. Gov. Paul LePage addressed the audience followed by keynote speaker William O’Brien, former Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
“For his immense and unwavering dedication to Maine’s conservative movement, I am pleased to award Gordon Colby with [MHPC’s] 2013 Freedom & Opportunity Award,” said CEO J. Scott Moody.
Colby’s contribution to grassroots conservative organizing is unparalleled in the state of Maine, said Moody.
Born in the Norway area and raised on Paris Hill, Colby spent his early years living all around the state. When he turned 17, he enlisted in the Army, serving a tour in Vietnam. When he left the service, Gordon enrolled at Southern Maine vocational school and took a job at Lancaster Furniture Company in Portland. Since then he has, in his words, “been everywhere and done everything.”
Colby worked as a bus driver and custodian at Jonesport Beals High School and as a policeman for the town of Jonesport. He lived in Rumford while managing Price Kutter supermarket stores in Skowhegan and Bangor in the early 1980s. He returned Downeast to run a general store in Columbia, before moving to Lewiston to manage a homeless shelter and deliver newspapers for the Lewiston Daily Sun. In 1988, he got involved in the blueberry business and two years later joined RT Allen & Son Blueberry Company.
Colby is presently the General Manager for RT Allen & Son Blueberry Company, overseeing production of some 6 – 8 million pounds of blueberries per year on roughly 5,000 acres of blueberry land stretching from Brunswick to Stueben to Farmington to Sebec. “Eat Maine Wild Blueberries – they are good for you and they taste good too,” he says.
His entry into the political world began on New Year’s day 2010. Like many Americans, Gordon was fed up with government. He believed progressive politicians, since even before Woodrow Wilson, had been advancing a philosophy that sees government as the solution to all of man’s problems. After talking with some relatives out in Idaho about the lack of self-reliance, independence, and industriousness in society, Gordon realized that simply talking about the problems would no longer suffice.
Rather than complain, he took action, forming the Knox and Lincoln County Tea Party (KLTP) on the first of May 2010. Since that time, Gordon’s group has become the largest and most influential group of its kind in Maine.
“The first time that I met Gordon Colby I was in an [Administrative and Financial Services] committee hearing,” said Rep. Jeff Giffords (R-Lincoln). “When the hearing was over Gordon asked if there’s anything he could do to help,” he said. “He didn’t realize that it was going to be a life sentence.”
In addition to his work with the tea party, Gordon has personally invested himself in ensuring that conservative leaders win elections. In 2010, he organized the Governor’s Whistle Stop Train Ride. Last year, he oversaw a signature collection effort for Bruce Poliquin’s U.S. Senatorial Primary campaign that gathered 3,300 signatures in just over ten days. Furthermore, he has raised a substantial amount of money to support conservative candidates for the state legislature.
“I recall that in the last Presidential Election, when I was trying to organize the purchase of [Mitt Romney] signs with folks in his area, Gordon was always ‘only a phone call away’,” said Mary Schiavoni. “Gordon is always willing to help and seems he is always only a phone call away,” she said. “His efforts were extremely helpful in connecting me with others in his County.”
“Gordon first emailed me in February of 2010 these words: “I do believe that we must get involved in the political process if we want to restore core conservative beliefs and values to our State and Country,” said Mary Adams, Maine’s top tax reform champion for the past four decades.
“From the winter of 2010 until today we have watched a 60-year-old businessman, whose only prior political experience was to vote, turn himself into one of the foremost grassroots leaders in Maine. He has focused his natural abilities to organize and inspire others.
But apart from his invaluable personal contribution to the conservative movement, said Moody, Colby’s greatest influence is the ripple effect of his activism.
According to Moody, “Colby’s tea party group provides forum for other people to get involved in state and local politics. Countless people are doing things who otherwise wouldn’t have – running for town councils, school boards, and the state legislature, getting involved in state party committees and writing letters to the editor — because of the information and inspiration provided at the Knox and Lincoln County Tea Party.”
Conservatives from around the state offered great praise for Colby and his work on behalf of the conservative movement.
“Gordon can belt out a song, bake a mean pot of beans, rally the troops and inspire folks to get things done,” said Carol Weston, Maine state director for Americans for Prosperity.
“Gordon Colby is a great example of the best of Maine and the best of Maine conservatism,” said Bryan Dench, husband of Informed Women’s Network President Susan Dench.
“Principled, humble, witty and gracious, Gordon is a role model for us all,” he said. “Because the people on the left generally lack all these virtues, Gordon is just the kind of person they cannot understand and therefore often despise. But thank God for the tea party movement and thank God for Gordon! Susan and I have been greatly blessed to get to know him.”
“Gordon is one of the most influential grassroots activists in the Maine conservative movement. He is a man of action and persistence. If we could find another 30 Gordon Colby’s, Maine would be a different place today. A place of prosperity and loaded with personal accountability,” said Bob Stone, senior VP of Androscoggin Bank.
“I have not seen a man or woman who became more dedicated to helping the conservative movement and the candidates that Gordon supported more effectively and efficiently. Besides measuring up as a wonderful person, he does what he says he will do, and Maine is better off because of him,” said Mark Wellman, president of Marketing Media for New England Cost Management.
“Gordon Colby is a true patriot,” said Bruce Poliquin, a close friend of Colby’s and current Republican candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. “A short few years ago, he left the comfort of the private sector to help his state and country in a more public way. He has grown to be one of Maine’s most persistent, well-organized, best humored, and most valued grassroots activists.
“Many of us conservatives who serve We The People regularly turn to Gordon for help,” he said. “His success, however, comes at a price. We candidates are forced to listen to his endless crooning of “Happy Trails” with the windows rolled up in his big white pick-up truck as we cruise along the winding back roads of Maine.”
“Gordon is a man who is outstanding in many fields,” said Pem Schaeferr, a conservative blogger from Brunswick.“When it comes to blueberries, he has a green thumb, or should we say a blue thumb? When it comes to grass-roots fields, he has a conservative red thumb. When it comes to fields of liberty and limited government, he has a red-white-and blue thumb,” he said. “So some might say he’s ‘all thumbs,’ but in a very good way. And no one is more fun to have a ‘tea party’ with.”
“If Samuel Adams were here in the room with us today, I think the Father of the American Revolution would recognize Gordon as a patriot after his own heart,” said Mary Adams.
“I know that I recognize him as a Maine Freedom Fighter and a friend to each of us who are working to carry on the American traditions.”
Maine Wire Reporter