Candidates, Gov. LePage work toward November elections

(NEWS CENTER) -- Maine politicians continue to prepare for the November elections and this year there are many new candidates in the Republican races. Rick Bennett, chairman of Maine Republican party said that within party, there's a lot of churn and change.

"We outpaced the Democrats considerably in terms of getting raw numbers of candidates. But it is challenging serving in office these days. The fact so many quality, committed and capable Maine people decided to step forward and run for the legislature as Republicans, I think shows a lot about the motivation and organization of the party this year," said Bennett.

Strimling said that though Republicans filled every seat, almost half of Republicans incumbents are not running for re-election.

"I think it is a very important to question why that is. Maybe because they are in the minority or may there's frustration or maybe there is some division within the political party," said Ethan Strimling.

He pointed out it's going to be much harder for the Republicans to win the majority without the incumbents.

While candidates are preparing, Gov. LePage is moving forward with some of his agenda items as part of his re-election campaign. The federal government requires that people who receive SNAP benefits work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week. Maine had an exemption to the rule, but the LePage administration recently announced it was not going to renew the exemption. Strimling said one of the reasons the exemption exists is that one size does not fit all.

"If you are in a rural area in Maine, it's a little further to travel and the unemployment rate is's trying to create some flexibility for individual cases," said Strimling.

Bennett said he thinks it is a common sense reform for the welfare system.

"The governor is asking people work, go to school, or volunteer in the community. These are things one would expect to receive the benefits from hard working taxpayers," said Bennett.

Bennett said he also said he thinks it's good politics and Maine people want welfare reform. Strimling said he thinks the most important issue is job creation, which will help those unable to find jobs.


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