November 18, 2018
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Taxpayer-funded bumper stickers have no place in the Republican primary for governor

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
I fully intend to lead by example and reject Clean Election funds in pursuit of the Republican nomination for governor.

The 2010 Republican primary proved to be much more than a stepping stone to the Blaine House and accomplished what primaries are supposed to do — candidates traveled from Kittery to Caribou and everywhere in between introducing themselves and their vision for Maine.

I see the path to our party’s nomination as a chance to put forward a record of common-sense conservative principles matched with an understanding of what makes all 16 counties different and what unites us as a party.

Gov. Paul LePage and his allies in the Legislature — along with town officials, business owners and activists — have been fighting to rein in spending, cut taxes, drive down the unemployment rate and increase good-paying sustainable jobs. As the leader of the House Republican Caucus, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some of the most principled conservatives serving communities all over the state who prove time and time again that your tax dollars are for essential roles of government only.

This brings me to the use of taxpayer dollars to fund bumper stickers, yard signs and postcards for candidates for governor. In 2018, we are looking at up to $1 million of available taxpayer funding per candidate seeking the nomination. That’s potentially millions of dollars that could do a lot of good in so many other areas of state spending.

While I won’t speculate on the motives of any candidate of any party running for governor to accept taxpayer dollars, I will say Republicans should run for our highest statewide office the same way we are supposed to govern. I fully intend to lead by example and reject taxpayer funds in pursuit of earning our party’s nomination for governor. It may not be the easy way to victory, but I’m ready for the challenge.

For anyone who’s ever served in elected office, when has the easy route ever, ever moved this state forward? You don’t see help wanted signs posted outside of businesses big and small because LePage and conservative lawmakers have been doing what is easy for the past seven years.

In 2011, the hospitals didn’t get paid back debt because a few Republicans did what was easy. When you look at our most recent biennial state budget, I’ll tell you what you don’t see — you don’t see any tax increases, anywhere. And that’s because 60 House Republicans said, “No, we’re staying until we get it right.” That’s what we did, and we delivered.

I can’t control whether I get outspent in this race, but I won’t be outworked. I’ll be traveling through all 16 counties over and over and over again, because that’s the level of commitment that I’ve shown this state over the past seven years as a representative and as the House Republican leader. Don’t believe for a second that we as a party deserve anything less in our nominee.

Ken Fredette, the Maine House minority leader, is running for the Republican nomination for governor. He operates a small business and practices law in Newport, and serves as a member of Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Refueling Wing in Bangor.

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