BANGOR, Maine — A mobile petition against government spending visited Bangor on Tuesday, attracting a small but passionate group of activists who inked their names to the cause — literally.
The Spending Revolt Bus will have driven 25,000 miles through 26 states and visited 200 events by the end of this week, according to organizers.
Three of those events were scheduled to unfold in Maine on Tuesday, starting at Bass Park in Bangor in the morning followed by a similar midday rally at the State House in Augusta and a town hall-style meeting in Portland on Tuesday evening.
The red, white and blue-emblazoned bus has taken on a lot of silver during its trip as people from across the country have filled virtually every piece of open space with signatures.
Approximately 25 people turned out for the Bangor event. Some of them were from the rank and file of conservative activists in Maine, but the rally also attracted some who are not regulars on the rally scene.
Cindy and Paul Philbrick, owners of Elco Electric in Bangor, said they came to the Bangor rally because they have seen the effects of overspending on their bottom line.
Cindy Philbrick was holding a sign that read, “Vote the Cockroaches Out.” Asked who the cockroaches are, she said they are almost every Democrat and a whole lot of Republicans.
“They’ve lost their way,” she said. “There’s too much government spending and too many regulations.”
Trevor Bragdon, state director of a conservative group called Americans for Prosperity, said he hoped the message being sent Tuesday would resonate.
“We need to educate voters that it’s about the people they send to Augusta, to Washington and to their city council,” said Bragdon, who is the brother of Tarren Bragdon, director of Maine Heritage Policy Center, another conservative think tank based in southern Maine.
Sen. Carol Weston, R-Waldo County, one of the more conservative legislators in the State House, said government spending is causing a wide range of problems for both businesses and individuals.
“I’m very proud to put my name on this bus,” she said. “If your paycheck increases, the economy rebounds. When government spends, you have less, and the economy goes into a slump. Government should be doing only what government needs,” she said to cheers from the audience.
Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, had a similar message.
“In Augusta, we’ve developed a voracious appetite for your tax dollars,” said Cushing. “There’s a disconnect for many people in our legislative leadership. There is not a revenue problem in Augusta. There is a spending problem.”
Jim LaBrecque of Bangor said he decided to attend the event after receiving an automated call from the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He said the support he’s seeing for conservative candidates such as Paul LePage, the Republican nominee for governor, is encouraging.
“I’m very optimistic that there is finally the right movement building in the state and in the country,” he said.