June 9, 2010

Republicans pick LePage

By Matt Wickenheiser mwickenheiser@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Waterville Mayor Paul LePage surged ahead of his competitors Tuesday night to emerge at the top of a seven-way Republican primary in the Maine governor’s race.

click image to enlarge

Maine GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage celebrates with supporters at campaign headquarters in Waterville Tuesday night.

AP

Les Otten, who had held second place for much of the night, conceded around 11 p.m.

“Tonight was not a win for any particular group. It was not a win for any particular ideology or any particular faction. Tonight was a win for the state of Maine and our future,” said LePage in a statement. “Now, having been homeless at the age of 11, I am on the doorstep to the Blaine House in Augusta. This is the story of the American dream.”

LePage, 61, led the Republican pack with 38 percent of the vote, with 71 percent of precincts reporting just after midnight. Otten followed with 17 percent and Peter Mills with 14 percent.

The rest of the field was Steve Abbott with 13 percent, Bill Beardsley with 10 percent, Bruce Poliquin with 4 percent and Matt Jacobson with 3 percent.

With 95 percent of returns counted by Wednesday afternoon, the only candidates who saw a change in their share of the vote were Mills, with 15 percent, and Beardsley, with 9 percent.

Maine GOP chairman Charlie Webster said he thought LePage came out on top because the “regular people relate to a guy who’s like them.”

“People in the state of Maine are pretty upset about what’s happened in Augusta for 30 years,” said Webster. “Paul LePage proved he could fix things in Waterville.”

LePage will face Democrat Elizabeth Mitchell in the November general election, and as many as three independents, including Eliot Cutler of Cape Elizabeth, Kevin Scott of Andover and Shawn Moody of Gorham, who have qualified to be on the ballot. Moody said he’ll announce this morning if he’s running.

Otten said he had called LePage and had “given him my wholehearted support in his run to be the next governor of Maine.”

The Republican primary was an expensive proposition this year. Candidates spent roughly $4.5 million in the race.

LePage only spent $180,254, according to campaign finance reports. Only Jacobson, in last place, spent less.

The big spender in the campaign was Otten, at $2.3 million. Otten raised about $122,550 and loaned his campaign $2.47 million.

Jacobson conceded early, stepping to the podium at Binga’s Stadium in Portland to the cheers of about 40 supporters.

“I think it is pretty clear we are not going to climb out of this hole,” he said. 

Mills told the crowd at his Portland campaign office that he was proud of the work his team did.

His campaign manger, Marc Pitman, said he felt like he was on the TV show “Survivor,” “and we just got blind-sided at the tribal council.”
Abbott called LePage to concede before 11 p.m.

“I think he really ran a terrific campaign. He should be proud of the work he’s done and proud of the work his supporters have done,” Abbott said.

“Regardless of the outcome, we’re going to feel it’s a job well done,” said Michael Pajak, Beardsley’s campaign manager.

Poliquin, of Georgetown. said the results were disappointing.

“The good part is the dialogue in this state has changed for the better. We’re now talking about being fiscally responsible,” said Poliquin.

Cutler said he’s called both Mitchell and LePage with congratulations. He said the Republican and Democratic parties “reverted to their old ideological habits in a year when the vast majority of Maine voters couldn’t care less about party labels.” He noted that voter turnout was low and that the thousands who stayed home essentially voted for “none of the above.”

(Continued on page 2)

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