BANGOR, Maine — As state Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster sees it, the working people of Maine are becoming increasingly angry and it’s time that Republicans tap into that anger.
Regular working people, he says, are being asked to pick up more and more of the cost of supporting those who make bad decisions, as well as the costs connected with what he deems Maine’s too-liberal government policies.
Webster, a former state legislator who switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP, said Wednesday that he decided to climb back into the state’s political boxing ring, not as a candidate but as a party leader whose role is to help bring about a revival of the Republican Party.
And now, after 35 years of Democratic leadership in Augusta, he says it is the time to do it.
But first, the party has to convince Maine voters that the Republican Party — not the Democratic Party — is the champion of the working class.
“For 35 years these folks have been in power and the workers are the ones who lose,” said Webster, 53, an oil burner repairman from Farmington.
That was the core of his message to the more than 40 people who attended a meeting Wednesday night of the Bangor Republican City Committee, held on the Husson University campus.
Under Democratic leadership for the last 35 years, Maine has become a “welfare state,” Webster said.
“The only way they can fund the welfare state that we have in Maine is to take the money right out of the pocket of the single mother who’s working two jobs, one of those at Wal-Mart and one of those pumping gas, so she can survive,” he said.
“And they say, ‘Oh, you don’t need all that money. The government has got to make sure that we take care of everybody.’ And they’re taking it out of my pocket and it makes me angry.”
The attitude in Augusta today, he said, is that the state needs to “take money from the working class and give it to those who don’t want to work — people who want to sit home and drink beer. People who want to sit home and watch a big-screen TV. People who want to have babies” without the means to support them.
“You know what? Once we convince that group of people [the working class] that we’re the party that represents them, we’re gonna win because you know what? In the end, we are the party that represents the working people,” he said.
That, however, will take some education, he said.
“The fact is, we represent the issues that people care about. Maine’s not liberal. People in Maine just don’t know what the politicians are doing because they knock on their door, they smile at them, they talk about the flower pot. They don’t tell people what they’re all about,” he said.
“The fact is Democrats have done a great job, a masterful job of electing people because they talk about things of unimportance. It’s all about personality. It’s not about the issues and we are on the right side of the issues,” he said.
“I’m not looking to run for anything. I’m looking to elect people who believe in free enterprise, who believe in limited government, property rights. The things that Maine people believe in.”
“We want to make sure there’s a safety net but we do not want to pay people to make inappropriate decisions and benefit from it.”