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LePage promises to 'right the ship' at Maine GOP Convention

Republican candidate for governor Paul LePage speaks at the Republican state convention, Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Augusta, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
Republican candidate for governor Paul LePage speaks at the Republican state convention, Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Augusta, Maine.

Former Gov. Paul LePage vowed to "right the ship" if he wins a reelection bid this November.

In a 35-minute speech that headlined the Maine Republican Convention in Augusta Saturday, LePage reiterated past pledges to phase out the state's income tax and pass some sort of voter identification law.

He spent much of his speech knocking his challenger, current Gov. Janet Mills, her response to the pandemic and what he described as out-of-control government spending. He criticized Maine for spending federal funds and said he would balance the state's budget if reelected.

"We're hiding behind Uncle Joe's money," LePage said. "That money's temporary. It's one-time funny money, and it will run out. I guarantee you, they will spend it. In fact, she's going to try to spend it before November."

LePage also vowed to reinstate nurses, firefighters and others who lost their jobs due to the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate with back pay, but he didn't offer many details.

In Maine's 2nd District race, Bruce Poliquin said his experience as a businessman and former two-term congressman is what Mainers need to fix rising prices and reverse out-of-control government spending.

Poliquin is fighting for his old seat back, and faces a challenge in the upcoming Republican primary from Liz Caruso, a Caratunk town selectman and businesswoman.

In his speech before Republican leaders and grassroots activists at the convention, Poliquin reminded the crowd of his experiences as Maine state treasurer and his time in Congress.

"I know how this economy works. I know how jobs are created. Nobody in this race has the experience and the proven track-record to fix a mess like this. I've done it before, " Poliquin said.

On multiple occasions, Poliquin described himself as a central Maine, Franco-American businessman like former LePage.

Caruso hit on some familiar Republican talking points while pitching herself as a needed new face for rural Mainers in her speech at the convention.

In what was her first big speech in front of many Maine Republicans, Caruso promised to enact voter ID laws and eliminate COVID-19 mandates. She says medical and educational freedom are the two biggest issues threatening Mainers.

"As your congresswoman, I'll fight against all mandates and the government's overreach into our bodily autonomy and our personal health decisions," Caruso said. "Americans can make their own educated decisions. If you want to wear a mask or get a shot, great. If you don't, great. That's freedom."

Caruso serves on the Caratunk town selectman board and is mostly known for her activism against the CMP corridor.