Todd Difede and Bradley Scott Ducharme are seeking the Republican nomination in the July 14 primary for House District 8. The winner will challenge Democrat Chris Babbidge in the Nov. 3 election. Courtesy photos

KENNEBUNK – A retired merchant mariner and a retired FBI agent are on the ballot in the July 14 primary, seeking their party’s vote to become the Republican candidate in the Nov. 3 race for House District 8, part of Kennebunk.

Todd DiFede, 57, was the FBI agent-in-charge for Maine from 2005 until his 2014 retirement. He spent 24 years with the agency. He is a reserve police officer in Kennebunk.

Bradley Scott Ducharme, 64, is a retired chief engineer merchant mariner who remains active in the industry. He owns Shorelands Guest Resort on Western Avenue.

The winner of the Republican primary will challenge incumbent Democrat Chris Babbidge, a retired teacher currently serving his fifth non-consecutive term.

“Kennebunk needs a representative who can keep a watchful eye on the big picture while addressing specific needs of the state and the town of Kennebunk,” said DiFede. “I am that candidate. I will support policies which help Maine workers, families, and businesses thrive in a business-friendly vibrant economy.”

” I am a fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican who is ready to work with those on both sides of issues to achieve what is best for the district as a whole,” said Ducharme.

Both say dealing with COVID-19 and its aftermath is a priority.

“First, the safety and health of all, especially the most vulnerable, must be maintained,” said Ducharme. “Second, the safe reopening of area businesses, area schools and religious services, with temperature checks, social distancing and wearing of masks for all employees, customers and attendees, must be accomplished as rapidly as reasonably possible in order to avoid further damage to our community. The third issue and just as important as the first two is the revenues needed to fund our local and state budgets. The revenues expected for the remainder of 2020 will not cover the budgets proposed, and if Maine is to go forward, expenditures in all departments will need to be addressed.”

Ducharme said he hopes education won’t be adversely affected by revenue shortfalls, but said costs might be lowered with some learning being done online.

“Recovery from COVID-19 is the first and foremost issue we need to address,” said DiFede. “There are so many residents and businesses in our community who are suffering and not getting assistance from our state government leaders.”

He said Gov. Mills’ earlier lockdown of York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties was unreasonable and resulted in unemployment, and hardships for restaurants and other businesses.

“Entrepreneurs are having to choose between selling a home or their business just to pay their bills,” said DiFede. “We all, as Maine residents, need to restore the balance of power in Augusta. Gov. Mills and state legislature leaders refuse to bring the legislature back in session and, because of that, they are heading us in the wrong direction. The state legislature needs to work together, across party lines, to generate and put into practice the best solutions for our state.”

DiFede noted Maine’s overdose deaths were up 7 percent in 2019 to nearly 400, with opioids accounting for 85 percent. He said he has the experience and the will to confront the drug crisis to keep working on improvements to prevention, treatment and recovery programs.

DiFede said he would resist efforts to raise taxes and fees.

“Gov. Mills has exhausted the state’s surplus with her first two-year budget,” said DiFede. “She then spent more by having a supplemental budget passed by the state legislature. The result, according to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, is a projected $1.2 billion state budget shortfall this next fiscal year. The state does not have enough reserve funds to cover the shortfall. In addition to the financial impact of COVID-19, Maine residents can’t and shouldn’t be expected to shoulder tax increases of varying kinds to compensate for special projects and overspending.”

DiFede is married and has three children.

Ducharme said if he had been a legislator, he would have granted Mills emergency powers, with a caveat. He advocates reconvening the legislature every 30 days to discuss a reauthorization of powers, based on circumstances and the plans the governor proposes to address them.

“I would have advocated for the use of the $200 million emergency relief fund left by (the) LePage administration to assist the most vulnerable in Maine, such as single parents, low income families and funding for essential workers. Oh no, I forgot, Gov. Mills spent this money last year,” said Ducharme in an email. “Even if the Democrat-controlled legislature had not given all the power to Gov. Mills with no time limit, effectively silencing dissenting legislators, I expect it would have been useless to advocate for solutions since I am sure they would have been shot down by the Democrats in charge. Rule by one party with one ideology can never address the issues faced by the diverse populations of Maine. If elected, I intend to advocate for those who are not being heard right now.”

Married, Ducharme and his wife have a blended family of four children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He has run for office twice.

“The next legislature will need to work hard, and all parties will need to work together to address these issues,” said Ducharme. ” I am up to the task of moving Maine forward and solving these issues.”

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