A Republican House candidate who was urged by party leadership to abandon his run after he was arrested for an alleged assault said he is innocent and is staying in the race.

Mark Bedell, 50, was charged with aggravated assault last week after he was accused of attacking a woman in his home.

Bedell, a professional stuntman, is running against Democrat Maggie O’Neil to represent part of Saco in House District 15.

O’Neil and Bedell are campaigning for an open seat in a reliably Democratic district. Rep. Justin Chenette, who held the seat for two terms, stepped aside because he is running for state Senate.

Immediately following Bedell’s arrest, Republican House leaders and members of the state and local party organization called the allegations against him disturbing and said he should quit the race.

But Bedell, in an interview Tuesday, said he is not dropping out and was surprised at how quickly party leaders turned on him.


“Believe me, I am bursting at the seams wanting to tell my story,” but was advised not to speak about the case, Bedell said.

Police released few details about the alleged assault, but York County Assistant District Attorney Tanya Pierson said in court that it involved strangulation. Bedell was released from jail after posting $2,500 cash bail.

In a statement on his campaign Facebook page, Bedell said he is innocent of the charge against him.

“No one is more against domestic violence than I am,” Bedell said. “I have been a productive citizen for my entire life. I have never been charged with any criminal behavior and I should not be facing any charges now.”

Bedell said he was disappointed that Republican leaders had “taken it upon themselves to decide guilt or innocence without all the facts concerning this issue.”

Jim Booth, chairman of the York County Republicans, said Tuesday he continues to believe Bedell should withdraw. “I stand by my statement,” Booth said. “I think he should withdraw, but that is his personal decision, I guess.”


Although saying he is committed to the race, Bedell also said he has returned to the state most of the $2,736 that remains of the funds he has received as a publicly funded Maine Clean Election candidate. “I just don’t want anyone saying I am frivolously spending money,” Bedell said.

Creating jobs is his primary reason for running for office, Bedell said. He is in favor of lowering and eliminating Maine’s income tax and he opposes referendum proposals to require background checks for private gun sales, legalize recreational marijuana and raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

O’Neil, 27, is a former state park ranger and Saco native. She said she wanted to run for office to add her voice to the handful of state legislators under 30 years old. O’Neil said her top three issues are education, investing in new economic opportunities and protecting the state’s environment and natural resources.

O’Neil said Maine needs to reduce its taxes and that gun control measures should be determined by the Legislature, not through referendum petitions. She is in favor of legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana and raising the minimum wage.

O’Neil is a traditionally funded candidate. She has raised $7,083 and spent $6,097 in the campaign.

O’Neil said she was saddened about the allegations against Bedell. “I will continue to campaign to represent my district,” she said.


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:11 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2016, to reflect that Mark Bedell has received $5,631 in donations and public funding through the Maine Clean Elections Act and said he would return most of the $2,736 he had remaining.


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