Dear Governor LePage,
I would like to take a moment to discuss a topic that cannot be ignored any longer: the internal divisions within the Maine Republican Party.
2012 was a disastrous year for our party. Constant infighting led to a divided general election, and the poor leadership of former Chairman Charlie Webster made matters worse. We lost the Legislature and a U.S. Senate seat, while failing to capture the Presidency.
2012 was a failure for the Republican Party. It cannot be allowed to happen again.
Unfortunately, the problem will not be solved by simply preaching unity and telling people to come together. It’s naive and insulting to oversimplify the issue like that. These problems have become too big to ignore and thus must properly be addressed.
Now to be clear, contrary to popular belief in the Republican mainstream, I am not out to bring the party down. My criticisms of those within the party over the last year were valid. Beyond them being valid, the Party had enough time to react to these problems and fix them before they were brought to the open.
Why were they brought into the open? Because it’s clear that there are those who are clinging to power within and will stop at nothing to hang onto that.
It may be “inside baseball” to some, but with Arnold Gandil on First and Gaylord Perry on the mound. Nothing is fair.
Let’s take for example, the controversial elections for county officers that occurred in Penobscot. After issues arose, concerned Penobscot Republican Ken Anderson filed an appeal. Never heard a thing for weeks. Executive Director Jason Savage took the time to communicate to me three weeks later that the Chairman was reviewing the appeal, but nobody had bothered to actually communicate with the appellant. Not only is that disrespectful, that’s bad leadership.
In the end, Chairman Rich Cebra ran and hid behind a legal shield by summoning a lawyer instead of actually moving to do the right thing.
The result? Because of continued violations of the bylaws, the current leadership in Penobscot was illegally elected, and is thus invalid. Now that’s genuine and inspiring going into a major election cycle.
Since then, Republicans inside and outside Penobscot County have unenrolled from the party. That is lost ground when we need to be gaining. What kind of leadership is this?
Then there’s the budget. As a man who stands for the Constitution and respects the law, I’m sure you will understand the importance of bylaws within the Party as well. Our bylaws state clearly that the deadline for the State Committee to adopt a budget is March 31st. Look at the date, while keeping in mind the Budget Committee has yet to even produce a budget for the State Committee to approve. It’s May!
As a businessman, I’m sure you also understand the importance of a budget when it comes to operations.
In an e-mail to the State Committee, Budget Committee chairman Michael Coleman referred to these honest pleas for better leadership as a “circular firing squad”, then taking it a step further accusing the State Committee of NOT wanting you to be re-elected.
With respect to the Old Orchard Beach Town Councilor, he cannot possibly toss an accusation out there like that. The State Committee was made aware that the bank account is in the red, but without a budget, nobody is quite sure why. Chairman Cebra and Executive Director Jason Savage refused to clarify who was on payroll and how much they were being paid.
How do we expect to keep you in the Blaine House with NO money?
Short answer: we can’t.
Now Governor LePage, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t agreed with a number of things you’ve done as of recent. On the other hand, you have done a great deal of good, as well. And I can say this: I was a very early supporter of yours. I remember in late 2009, you came to Lisbon Falls for a Meet and Greet. We had a small group of people there, but a good group who were interested in hearing from a candidate with new, fresh ideas. I was one of them.
This was a time when nobody seemed aware of who Paul LePage was. As you pushed forward, people began to notice, but nobody seemed to believe you could win. I did, as did many others. And what happened?
Well, to sum it up, against all the odds, I am addressing you as Governor of the great state of Maine right now.
Though we disagree on some things, we agree on the principles that brought you and the grassroots activists, like myself, together in 2010. It was an incredible year for the Republican Party.
Unfortunately, the Legislative majorities we elected alongside you have been lost. And if everything continues as it is now, you will not win re-election next year. It will be game over.
We cannot let this happen. We have a lot of work still ahead of us for Maine.
But if the troubles continue in our party due to the continued lack of leadership, the divisive antics of various figures, and the repeated refusal to not respect bylaws, then we lose.
A State Committee cannot move forward when a Chairman threatens them with lawyers because he refuses to address problems. A Chairman cannot lead when he allows bylaws violations to stand. Beyond all this, grassroots Republicans cannot trust an inactive State Committee and a failing Chairman.
With a bank account in the red and zero transparency, the Maine Republican Party is presently dead. Coleman won’t show us how, Cebra and Savage won’t tell us why, and all the while, the donors obviously aren’t donating. Because of all this, the grassroots are understandably upset. What’s going on?
You and I both supported Rich Cebra, who was a solid legislator, for the position of Party Chairman. But sometimes, as history has shown us from time to time, great legislators don’t always make stellar executives. When it comes to this issue, we were wrong.
All is not lost and the operation can be saved. What comes down to is priorities. Are we working to protect temperamental egos within our own party or are we working to improve Maine for the better?
You sir, seem like a reasonable man. Take the lead to save your party before it is all lost, so we can continue to move Maine forward. Do the right thing.