Maine Republicans gathered at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday to adopt a party platform and to begin paying tribute to outgoing leaders – including Gov. Paul LePage – ahead of the November elections.

On a day largely devoted to official party business, several thousand state convention attendees approved a platform – essentially a statement of ideals – filled with conservative ideals. Among other things, the platform calls for eliminating the income tax, espouses the “sanctity of human life – from conception to natural death,” opposes federal Common Core education standards as well proficiency-based learning, calls for respect of free speech “regardless of the merits of the opinions expressed,” defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and calls for an end to public campaign financing.

The biggest news happened when attendees voted to change the party’s platform rules to say they preferred using a plurality vote in their primary elections rather than ranked-choice voting. Party leaders followed that up by filing suit in federal court seeking to block the Maine Secretary of State’s Office from using ranked-choice voting to decide winners in the June 12 Republican primaries.

Friday evening, a smaller crowd was expected to honor LePage as he winds down his second and final four-year term in the Blaine House. Republican Party officials declined to allow press into the event, however, describing it as a “private celebration” that also serves as a fundraiser.

On Saturday, attendees are expected to hear from the four Republicans running to succeed LePage as governor as well as candidates for congressional offices.

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