Inside Augusta

Pair of high-profile Republican lawmakers eyeing gubernatorial bid

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Two leading conservative lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport, are setting their sights on the Blaine House, according to multiple media reports.

The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday morning Fredette has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference at his law offices to announce his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

Fredette is known for his loyalty to the party and outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, helping keep the Republican caucus in check to sustain a number of LePage’s vetoes over the years. A lawyer and member of the Air National Guard, Fredette believes Maine can build on its recent success under the LePage Administration.

“I don’t want to see Maine move backwards,” Fredette told the Press Herald. “I’m going to run on my record for what I think I’ve done in the Legislature.”

Fredette earned praise among conservatives earlier this year, leading House Republicans in a joint effort with Senate allies to repeal the 3 percent surtax approved by Maine voters in 2016 via Question 2. Fredette also instrumental in negotiations to end Maine’s government shutdown in July.

His colleague in the Senate, Mason, a four-term state senator, was set to announce his candidacy at an event in Lewiston Wednesday night before the unexpected death of his mother, Rep. Gina Mason, who was in her first term as representative of House District 56.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the sudden passing of my beloved mother, Gina. She was the bedrock of our family and our hearts are broken over this tragic loss. While I know my mother has returned to Almighty God, at this most difficult time, I ask for your thoughts and prayers,” Mason said in a public statement Tuesday evening.

Mason has postponed his campaign kickoff and the event has not yet been rescheduled.

Mason, known for his strong social conservatism, has earned praise in Republican circles for championing Maine’s charter school legislation in 2011.

As it stands today, Fredette, Mason and former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew have all publicly stated their intent to campaign for the Republican nomination. There is speculation that Sen. Susan Collins may launch a bid for governor as well, however it remains uncertain if she will and whether she would enter as a Republican or an Independent.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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