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Maine lawmaker who fought pandemic restrictions and lost his wife to COVID-19 resigns

Chris Johansen
Robert F. Bukaty
State Rep. Chris Johansen, R- Monticello, wears a face shield as he takes the oath of office at the Augusta Civic Center, Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

A Republican member of the Maine House of Representatives who fought State House mask mandates and organized a protest last year against Gov. Janet Mills' efforts to fight the pandemic has resigned.

Rep. Chris Johansen's resignation was effective Nov. 19, according to a letter he sent to Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau that same day.

Johansen kept a relatively low-profile during his three terms until the onset of the pandemic when he made several headlines for leading the first demonstrations against the governor's pandemic restrictions in 2020 and for his involvement in fights against mask-wearing requirements for lawmakers enacted by Democratic leaders earlier this year.

Johansen lost his wife, Cindy Johansen, to COVID-19 last summer.

In his letter to House Speaker Fecteau, Johansen said his wife's dedication to the family farm allowed him to serve in the Legislature and that he no longer has the time to manage both duties.

He said the decision was difficult because of the ongoing fight against what he described as the expansion of state power during the pandemic.