Gray, MAINE – A confident Gov. Paul LePage stood in sand pit in Gray on Tuesday alongside First Lady Ann LePage to accept an endorsement from the Associated Building Contractors of Maine.
“Back in 2010, the state was struggling. The economy was kind of down in the dumps. Jobs were hard to come by and we were having trouble paying our bills,” said James McBrady, general manager of James A. McBrady, Inc., a steel manufacturing company in Scarborough. “We needed a new direction.”
“In 2010 the state elected Paul LePage as governor and things turned around,” said McBrady, who serves as ABC Maine’s chairman.
ABC is a national organization that represents construction companies across the state, including Cianbro, Harry C. Crooker & Sons, Bowman Constructors, and more. The sand pit belonged to the Storey Bros. Excavation, also an ABC member.
“[LePage] brought a new way of doing things to Augusta and he’s made a lot of changes that have been beneficial to the construction industry and business in general,” said McBrady, who cited workers compensation reforms, health care insurance reform, independent contractor laws, and regulatory reform.
He also said that the LePage administration’s successful repayment of more than $750 million to Maine’s hospitals has spurred new construction in medical office buildings and nursing homes.
LePage said he was humbled by the endorsement and, in a speech to a small crowd of press and supporters, stressed the need for government to be a partner with, not an adversary against, the private sector.
“We have to have a prosperous economy,” said LePage. “I took office unemployment was over 8 percent. We worked very hard. Today it’s at 5.7 percent.”
LePage also addressed his opponents – both in the Legislature and in the gubernatorial race – criticism of his views on the minimum wage. “Let me tell you something: It’s not the minimum wage I want, It’s a living wage. That’s what Maine needs. And you do that by good paying jobs.”
He said workforce development initiatives should be focused on equipping Maine workers with the skills they need to fill openings at some of the very construction firms ABC represents.
The governor also spoke frankly about his legacy: “When I’m done in government, the one legacy I would like to see remain for future generations is a partnership between the private sector and government,” he said. “If they partner, we can win. If they become adversaries again, like they were for many, many years, we lose.”
With regard to his current reelection campaign, LePage told reporters after the press conference that independent Eliot Cutler, who finished in 2nd place in 2010, was “the man to beat.”