GORHAM — Last July, I entered the race for governor because I was fed up.

I was fed up with a system that is rigged in favor of the wealthy and the special interests, who can afford big-time lobbyists. And it’s rigged against working families.

The Cate Street debacle was too much to take. Cate Street was able to take millions of dollars of taxpayer money meant to create jobs in East Millinocket and pocket the cash instead. They left the community high and dry. That’s outrageous, and I wanted to be in a position to stop it from ever happening again.

Today, I’m still angry, but that’s not enough to sustain a statewide campaign. I have decided to end my run for governor.

I want to thank all of the people who have supported my campaign, who have volunteered and contributed and who are committed to making Maine a better place. This is a difficult decision, but I believe that it’s the right thing to do.

My family has deep roots in Millinocket, East Millinocket and throughout the Katahdin region. I had family working at the mill from the day it opened until the day it closed for good. Shady corporations used the trauma of economic upheaval to make promises that they didn’t keep, tearing at the community again.

Traveling around the state at forums for candidates and talking with voters every day, I learned that they are also angry.

They know that a lot of corporations will cut corners and abuse the system to increase profits. But they expect political leaders to hold those corporations accountable, to stand up to the special interests and to do the right thing. Too many politicians have let them down.

One of my first big events was a candidates’ roundtable hosted by the Maine People’s Alliance. The event encouraged voters to provide the candidates with written feedback. I remember one comment specifically:

“Don’t say you’re running because you’re angry. Say you’re passionate.”

That person was right. I am passionate about making Augusta work for working people again, fighting income inequality, tackling the opioid epidemic and expanding access to health care, getting big money out of politics and working on real solutions to climate change that include moving away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable, renewable energy.

I built my environmental consulting business on the idea that we don’t need to choose between protecting the environment and creating jobs. The two go hand in hand. We can no longer accept the idea that if we want prosperity, we have to trade our clean water, clean air and health.

During two years in the Maine Senate, I saw up close how the lobbyists work the halls, and people with jobs and families are shut out. Walk out of a committee room or try to go to the bathroom, and there’s a lobbyist tugging at your arm.

People who work for a living can’t be there all the time, and they need someone in Augusta looking out for them.

The pundits and pontificators like to joke about the number of people who are running for governor. They treat politics like a sport. It’s not. The outcome of elections touches every person living in Maine, and it should be treated with that level of seriousness.

Voters are lucky. They have a large and qualified field of candidates to choose from, each bringing his or her own ideas and strengths. There are passionate activists, experienced political leaders, newcomers and fresh faces running for governor.

Some have been able to raise lots of money, while others are building an army of small donors. Some of the candidates are well-known, while others are trying to make a statewide name for themselves.

For voters, the large field offers lots of choices. They are different and diverse, and I was proud to get to know them and be among them for the last few months.

As we have made our way across the state talking to voters, one thing is certain: Democrats are excited and engaged in a way that I haven’t seen before. They are taking their obligation to vet candidates seriously, and I trust them to make the right decision.

My campaign for governor is over, but this is not the end. We have work to do to make sure the next person in the Blaine House is committed to bringing people together to solve the big problems facing our state.

— Special to the Press Herald

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