November 3, 2010

Paul LePage is Maine's next governor

Watch LePage's acceptance speech

From staff and wire reports

Paul LePage has won the race to be Maine's next governor.

Watch LePage press conference

click image to enlarge

Paul LePage speaks to supporters at the election results party at Champions in Waterville Tuesday night.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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At 1:30 p.m. today with 96 percent of precincts reporting, LePage had 38 percent of the votes with 210,279, and Independent Eliot Cutler had 37 percent with 201,801 votes.

LePage's lead continued to grow as small towns provided late returns.

LePage had to wait until late Wednesday morning to learn for sure that he'd won. He also learned that Republicans had won control of both the Maine House and the Maine Senate.

"We're not going to Augusta with an ax to be chopping heads. We're going to Augusta to do the same thing we did in Waterville: Reverse the trend of high taxes, streamline regulations, and shrink the size and scope of government. We need more jobs. We need better jobs in Maine, and that's what we're going to be doing," he said.

He told The Associated Press he was getting to work right away on assembling his transition team. He said his priority will be to "put Maine people ahead of politics."

Cutler called to congratulate LePage today and later announced that he would not seek a recount.

The 62-year-old LePage surprised political observers and even himself with a decisive win in a seven-way primary in June. The victory in his first statewide campaign marks another step in a rags-to-riches story for LePage, who was homeless at age 11 but went on to finish college and have a successful career in business.

Fluent in French, LePage will become Maine's first Franco-American governor since 1879, when Alonzo Garcelon was elected by the Legislature to serve a one-year term.

LePage ran for governor with promises to cut taxes, reform welfare, reduce what he sees as a bloated state bureaucracy and cut regulations he said hamper business and job growth. LePage surprised political observers with a decisive win in a seven-way primary in June, while playing down his support from tea party activists.

LePage brought to the campaign a compelling personal story that few if any Maine politicians in recent decades could match. Abused in an impoverished home, he took to the streets of Lewiston at age 11 and took shelter wherever he could find it, sometimes in horse stables or an upstairs room of a strip joint.

He went on with his education and launched a successful business career, currently as general manager of Marden's, a chain of surplus and salvage stores.

Running for the highest office in a state where more than on a third of the population is of French and Canadian descent, LePage displayed his Franco-American heritage with pride. During an early televised debate, he addressed the audience during the opening in French.

LePage repeatedly stressed his bedrock belief that giving businesses more freedom from government regulations will enable them to expand and create jobs, pointing to Maine's nationally low rating for pro-business climate.

He said a governor alone "cannot create private-sector jobs, but create the environment and culture in Augusta to reform its regulatory system, to bring it back into the middle of the pack, to unleash the job creators."

Married with five grown children, including two from a previous marriage, LePage's personal financial dealings came into question during the campaign when it was revealed his wife had sought tax breaks on homes in Florida as well as Maine. LePage's wife, Ann, lives in Florida for part of the year to care for her ill mother.

LePage's' opponent, Independent candidate Eliot Cutler, gave his concession speech at a noon press conference in Portland.

The Cape Elizabeth resident thanked his staff, family and supporters, and said he called LePage at around 10:45 this morning to concede the race.

(Continued on page 2)

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