AUGUSTA – More than 400 supporters joined Republican Gov. Paul LePage at the Buker Community Center for his campaign kick-off event Tuesday night.
“We must – we must – re-elect Governor LePage,” said Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett as he introduced the night’s speakers, including business owner and former Michaud supporter Cindy Robbins and U.S. Air Force veteran Theresa Dempsey.
Robbins, a primary-voting Democrat and owner of Poland Springs Resort, has previously donated to LePage’s Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud. But because of LePage’s efforts to make Maine more business friendly, she will not be supporting the five-term congressman in the governor’s race.
“Doing business is not only difficult when dealing with the ups and downs of the tourist seasons, it is also difficult doing business in state that has not always been friendly to job creators,” said Robbins. “But I believe that has changed here in Maine.”
Dempsey, herself a survivor of an abusive relationship, lauded the governor’s work fighting domestic violence in the state and recalled the day she met LePage. Her story, said Dempsey, brought tears to the governor’s eyes.
“I never expected to be standing in front of you today – but I am honored to be, because I feel like I am here standing up against domestic violence – as we all should,” said Dempsey.
“Paul LePage has helped and touched my family, as well as many others because of his support of domestic violence prevention,” she said. “I knew he had faced terrible acts of violence in his own home as a young child, so much so that they forced him to leave home and become homeless. He made it out and became a strong person. Feeling his support, I knew that I too could continue to fight for my children’s and my safety—no matter what it took.”
LePage took the stage, flanked by First Lady Anne, to uproarious applause and delivered a characteristic speech, touting his accomplishments and sticking, mostly, to his notes.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “Les actes sont plus eloquents que les paroles.”
“I came to the governorship from a background in business,” he said. “I’m not one of those smooth-talking politicians. I came in as a job creator who knew how to grow Maine’s economy.”
“With reforms, we have created jobs — thousands of them. The unemployment rate is down a whole point — a 12.5 percent reduction. More than 7,000 jobs have been created since I took office,” he said. “We’re on the upswing.”
The list of accomplishments LePage spoke of includes replacing corrupt and inept bureaucrats at the Maine Turnpike Authority and Maine State Housing Authority with qualified and competent leaders; fighting welfare fraud and abuse; addressing a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion without raising taxes; paying the more than $500 million hospital debt without raising taxes; and delivering the largest tax rate cut in Maine’s history.
“We’ve changed the attitude in this state from how do we create red tape and bureaucracy to how do we cut red tape and spur the economy,” said LePage.
In what will likely be a preview of the governor’s stance on environmental issues – a market both Michaud and unenrolled candidate Eliot Cutler are vying to corner – LePage said the environment and the economy “don’t have to compete.”
“We just need to treat them equally,” he said.
Maine Wire Reporter