PORTLAND – The Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Paul LePage during a news conference in Portland on Thursday.

After evaluating the records of the candidates and doing interviews, the group deemed LePage the best person to lead Maine, said Doug Newman, president of Newman Concrete Services in Richmond and chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“We did meet with the independent candidates as well, but we believe, and I think recent polls bear out, that this is probably going to come down to a race between the two major candidates,” he said. “We took a look at Libby Mitchell — she’s amassed a pretty impressive record of expanding government and increasing taxes.”

Newman said LePage, in contrast, would ease the state’s red tape and make it easier for economic development to move forward.

LePage said construction cranes line Interstate 95 from the Northeast down to Florida, and he would like to see more in Maine.

“My goal is to get a lot of cranes like these working all over the state,” he said, to applause from the dozen or so construction workers on the work site at the former Jordan’s Meats plant.

LePage said he stood by comments he made Sunday about opposing additional bonding, including infrastructure borrowing, at this time.

“Why go further into debt? We already have $8 billion worth of debt, if you include all the bills the state has to pay,” he said.

Kathleen Newman, the group’s president and CEO, said the group has not taken positions on bonding in the past and supports LePage’s stance.

“For some of our members, that’s their bread and butter; others just feel like Maine isn’t in a position to be borrowing when we are in such perilous financial straits,” she said. “It’s a mixed bag for our membership, but we don’t disagree with him that we’ve got to prioritize.”

LePage is leading the five-person field — Mitchell, plus independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott — according to recent polls.

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

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