AUGUSTA — Republican Party loyalists will converge on Augusta Friday and Saturday to hear from candidates for governor who hope to secure the Republican nomination in June, and to honor Gov. Paul LePage as his tumultuous tenure draws to a close.

The first day of Maine Republicans’ two-day state convention will be consumed largely by insider business as the more than 2,000 attendees adopt a party platform, participate in county caucuses and gear up for the 2018 campaigns. In the evening, however, Maine Republican Party officials plan a special “Insiders Look at the LePage Era” as the party begins to transition away from a brash and hard-charging governor who has dramatically reshaped the state’s political landscape over the past eight years.

“We’re going to be telling some stories that haven’t been told,” said Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party.

Much of Saturday’s schedule at the Augusta Civic Center will be devoted to speeches from party leaders and candidates for high-profile offices.

LePage, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin are all scheduled to deliver remarks Saturday morning along with 1st District candidate Mark Holbrook and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey.

Noticeably missing from the most recent agenda distributed by party officials Thursday was a speaking spot for Max Linn, the Bar Harbor financial planner who was hoping to run against Brakey in the June Republican primary for the chance to challenge independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in November.

As of this week, Linn is not an official candidate because Secretary of State Matt Dunlap determined he fell 10 signatures short of the 2,000 he needed to qualify for the June 12 primary ballot. Linn has appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that Dunlap was wrong to invalidate entire petition sheets after some – but likely not all – signatures on those sheets were shown to be fraudulent. Linn and other members of his campaign have denied any involvement in potentially fraudulent signatures and called for an investigation into the issue.

Savage said speaking slots are reserved for “official candidates.”

On Saturday afternoon, the four Republicans hoping to succeed LePage as governor will address the crowd.

Mary Mayhew of South China, LePage’s Health and Human Services commissioner for much of his term, is slated to speak first, followed by Gorham businessman Shawn Moody, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls.

With less than six weeks left until the primary, the money race is heating up among Republican gubernatorial hopefuls as well as their Democratic counterparts.

In the Republican field, Moody has raised more than $618,000 since joining the party last October and announcing his second run for governor a month later, although roughly half has come from his own funds. Mayhew has reported raising more than $335,000 while Mason – the only Maine Clean Elections Act candidate on the Republican side – has received more than $400,000 in public campaign financing. Fredette trailed well behind the field in fundraising, reporting $20,607 in contributions as of April 24.

Savage said that while this year’s convention does involve a transition from the LePage era, the party is growing and in a strong position going forward.

“We are still working together and there is a lot more that unites us than divides us” despite the media’s focus on intra-party divisions among Republicans in the Maine House and Senate, Savage said. “I think there are a lot of very excited people and we will have a couple of very significant surprises” during the convention.

The Maine Democratic Party will hold its state convention in Lewiston on May 18 and 19.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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