Republican candidate for governor Paul LePage speaks at the Republican state convention, Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty

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Demi Kouzounas is a dentist and chair of the Maine Republican Party.

Maine Republicans just held our 2022 convention and the event was a jam-packed, energetic affair. We talked about addressing the toughest issues Mainers are facing right now, including lowering rapidly rising household costs, tackling inflation, and fixing our education system so it works better for parents and children.

Thank you to the many people in the Greater Bangor area who came out and supported the change that the GOP represents in Maine this year.

The Maine Democratic Party is having its convention this weekend in Bangor.

The event will present some significant contrasts between the two parties as we head into election season.

In short, Maine Republicans are running on addressing the economic problems Mainers are facing. Gas prices have hit new record highs, diesel is way above $6 per gallon, and heating oil prices have reached terrifying new heights.

Addressing this economic disaster does not appear to be the primary focus of Democrats.

Maine Republican candidates are focused on economic issues like high costs and inflation for obvious reasons – they’re moms, small business owners, older folks and young people with small families, so they’re dealing with these issues firsthand. This is one reason why Republicans have seen so much recruiting momentum in state legislative races this year. The frustration so many are feeling with the direction Maine and our country has gone has inspired many wonderful people to run to help their communities.

Republicans are running on addressing economic issues because we know that we don’t live in a wealthy state. Even in our wealthiest areas, many Mainers are hurting too. A short discussion with just about anyone at a gas station will tell you that. Some are resigned, some are grim, some are angry. Many look with fear and uncertainty at the price per gallon, which seems to climb higher. This scene, sadly, is repeating itself all over our state right now.

Data backs up these conversations.  

We are facing  record-high inflation.

We just hit  yet another new record high for gas prices in Maine.

Diesel prices went over $6 per gallon in Maine this week. We at the Maine Republican Party recently spoke with the owner of a gas station in Hancock County that has stopped selling diesel altogether – in a region where plenty of folks drive diesel vehicles – an unimaginable outcome before Joe Biden became president.

A recent  Gallup poll came to the conclusion that “Americans are more likely today than they were a year ago to report being ‘very’ or ‘moderately worried’ about several aspects of their finances.” That is awful and unacceptable. The fear of economic vulnerability eats away at a person, and too many Mainers are feeling that gnawing pain these days.

Maine voters and Maine Republicans are concerned about high costs.

Given that their convention is this weekend, let’s look at Maine Democrats’ record on this issue in advance of the 2022 elections. They’ve spent recent years repeatedly attempting to, and sometimes succeeding in, raising your costs.

In recent years, Maine Democrats have:

Proposed a tax on fuels like gas, diesel, heating oil to reduce carbon emissions. You may have heard about this tax because Sara Gideon supported it before losing to Sen. Susan Collins in 2020. A number of Democrats running for office in Maine this year supported this legislation, which failed in the Legislature, including Nicole Grohoski. Grohoski is the Democrats’ candidate in the June 2022 special election for a Hancock County Senate seat.

Refused to even allow debate on suspending Maine’s gas tax to help working Mainers out this summer.

Passed legislation that created a health insurance cost increase for some Mainers. According to the Mills’ administration, this  law will lead to higher costs for those in the individual insurance market of up to $600 per person by 2025.

Voted for an  increase in fees charged to distribute pet food.. Attempting to make food more expensive for Mainers’ pets during record inflation is remarkably cruel, in our opinion. Voters in Aroostook County should know that Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson voted for this bill.

Many legislative Democrats voted for a  new tax on vacant family camps. Enjoying the family camp is one of the cultural staples of Maine, just like red hot dogs or lobster. However, nearly every Democrat who voted on this bill unsuccessfully tried to raise taxes on these family memory-makers.

So as you hear about the Maine Democrats’ convention this year, remember that the party has tried to raise your costs in recent years, including during record high inflation and rapidly rising costs of living.

In contrast, Maine voters and Maine Republicans are focused on getting those costs lower in order to lessen the economic pain we’re all feeling right now.