HERMON, Maine — Republican Les Otten officially kicked off his 2010 gubernatorial campaign on Monday, first in Scarborough, then at Dysart’s restaurant in Hermon, with a goal of becoming Maine’s next “job creator in chief.”
Otten, 60, a businessman for nearly four decades and former owner of Sunday River Ski Resort, formed an exploratory committee this summer but now has made his run official, adding to an already crowded field.
“I don’t think anyone has gotten the message right yet,” he said Monday before lunch at Dysart’s. “I think I have the right message. Maine is broke, and Augusta is broken.”
Otten said he plans to run his campaign on a platform of job creation and reducing government spending. He has never held public office before, but plans to use that to his advantage.
“Maybe the political experience I don’t have is an asset,” he said. “Everyone assumes that you have to live life in Augusta to make change. So, why haven’t they fixed things yet?”
A lifelong entrepreneur, Otten bought the property that became Sunday River for $132,000 in 1980 and later added Sugarloaf to his portfolio. By the late 1990s, Otten’s properties were valued at $270 million, but many believe he expanded too quickly and acquired too much debt. He retired as CEO in 2001 but remained on the board. When Sunday River and Sugarloaf were sold in 2007, the purchase price was $77 million.
Otten was part of an investment group that bought the Boston Red Sox several years ago and served as vice chairman of the baseball franchise from 2002 to 2007, overseeing renovations at Fenway Park. The Greenwood resident now is the principal of four Maine businesses: Maine Energy Systems, Sports Vision Technologies, the Phoenix Restaurant and Colony Development and Builders Co.
Otten is running a privately funded campaign.
“It’s not just that I have the wealth. Maine taxpayers are already paying enough,” he said.
Asked about the pending citizen initiatives before voters next month, Otten kept to a strict Republican agenda. He supports Question 2 and Question 4, the excise tax and taxpayer bill of rights, respectively, and said he would have vetoed the same-sex marriage bill if he were governor.
Otten plans a stop in Presque Isle from 7 to 8:30 a.m. today at the Northeastland Hotel.
More information about Otten and his campaign can be found online at: www.lesotten.com.