AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci says he likes Bob Crowley’s attitude.

Crowley, of South Portland, emerged as the winner of the “Survivor” reality TV show’s season finale. The high-school teacher got $1 million for his efforts.

Baldacci said in his weekly radio address that Crowley toughed it out, and his attitude can serve as an example for Mainers as they face a recession and tough times. Baldacci said Maine’s strengths, such as its rich natural resources and quality of life, will help it to overcome current economic crisis and build a future of prosperity.

“So if we continue to work hard to protect those things that make Maine special; invest in our ability to capture clean, renewable energy; and if we continue to display our world-renowned work ethic, we are going to make it through these difficult times,” Baldacci said in a text of his first weekend message of 2009.

The governor expressed relief with the passing of 2008, a year of “roller coaster” energy prices that saw the economy stumble into a recession.

“As the new year arrives, it brings with it renewal and a new hope for all that is possible in 2009,” said Baldacci. “We’ve moved beyond the winter solstice and the deepest darkness of winter. Each day forward brings longer days, a brighter sun and new optimism.”

Baldacci acknowledged challenges ahead, as the state faces an immediate $140 million-plus budget shortfall and an additional $838 million shortfall for the two-year cycle that starts in July.

“And while there are still tough times ahead, I know that just as the winter days will start to get longer and the sunshine of spring will return, we will move beyond our current challenges to better times,” the Democratic governor said.

In the Republican response, Sen. Debra Plowman of Hampden said elected leaders face challenges to prioritize state spending and provide basic services necessary to protect public health and safety.

Given the economic struggles of Maine’s working families, Republicans feel that tax increases to make up for a gaping budget hole “are out of the question,” Plowman said.

“We are encouraged by statements from the governor that indicate he shares our resolve to reject tax increases and balance the budget through spending reductions,” Plowman said. “And though we may have to overcome disagreements on some of the specific details along the way, we hope that it will be possible to achieve bipartisan cooperation from our Democratic counterparts in the Legislature, as well.”