The GOP contest to succeed LePage is a race to the right
PORTLAND, Maine — The four 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidates sparred for the first time Tuesday night in a television studio in a dense hour-long debate hosted by WGME and the Bangor Daily News.
It came with just over two months left in a primary race between businessman Shawn Moody, former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and Maine House Minority Leader Ken Fredette that is shifting from under-the-radar grass-roots work in party circles to more public campaign activities.
The debate illuminated the influence of Gov. Paul LePage and divisions developing between longtime and relatively new Republicans. But there were scant policy differences as the candidates look to make a case that they’re the most trustworthy conservative.
Mayhew and Moody were under attack for much of the debate over their conservative bonafides. Mayhew was a longtime Democrat before becoming a Republican in 2014 while Moody joined the party in October 2017after running for governor as an independent in 2010.
During Mayhew’s tenure in the LePage administration, she was the governor’s top lieutenant in the fight against Medicaid expansion. But Mason highlighted her support of a 2001 expansion as a lobbyist for the Maine Hospital Association and her history as a Democratic operative.