Maine State Senator Peter Mills

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Speech of Senator S. Peter Mills, Candidate for Governor before the GOP State Convention 5 May 2006

Senator Snowe - Senator Collins - Governor McKernan - fellow delegates - fellow Republicans.

I'm Peter Mills. I want to be your next Governor. I want to lead our party to the Blaine House next January. As Governor I have the experience to manage our state starting on the first day. As Governor -- I have the vision to lead our people every day of my administration.

The people of our state deserve a governor who shares their respect for hard work and their passion for self-reliance. The people of our state deserve a governor who leaves the money-printing schemes of Washington back behind the beltway; a governor who will not import them to pollute our politics. Maine people deserve a Governor whose journey to the Blaine House reflects Maine values.

I am joined here today by my three daughters: Kate, Alice, and Ruth, all brought up in Maine and educated in our public schools; strong, independent women each following a career of her own. I thank them for their thoughts.

I wish my wife Nancy could stand with me at this podium. But, as many of you know, she's a full-time superior court judge, appointed by Gov. McKernan. The law does not permit her to engage in politics. Even so much as to sport my bumper sticker on her car! I miss her here today, but I thank her for the sacrifice she makes on behalf of the people of Maine each and every day

In the last nine months I have traveled from Fort Kent to Kittery so that you could meet me. And, more importantly, so that I could meet you. My travels have confirmed what I have always known: That deep in the soul of Maine people is a great work ethic, a sense of self-sufficiency.

Consider the Maine State seal: a fisherman on one side, a farmer on the other. For good reason these were adopted as our models in 1820. That year, Maine's first governor, William King, spoke of the value of our fisheries, of agriculture, of our vast woodlands, which even today stretch from the coastal slopes of Agameticus to the valley of the St. John.

Today more and more Maine people enter manufacturing imbuing their craft with pride and excellence. At Bath and Kittery, the 20th century has seen the world's finest ships and submarines produced by Maine women and men. In South Portland, Fairchild and National Semi-conductor stand on the cutting edge of the high tech revolution. In Westbrook, Idexx produces the finest diagnostic prod-ucts. On Mount Desert we host Jackson Labs --- the most advanced genetic laboratory in the world. In Oakland's FirstPark, the state's largest public works development, I played a role in creating a home for T-Mobile Communications, the world's third largest manufacturer of high tech mobile phones. Governor King understood the character and values, deep within the soul of our people, when he spoke so long ago. I understand them too. I have learned them by living them through my family. My family's roots are deep in the soil and soul of Maine, stretching back almost 400 years. My ancestors settled everywhere from York to Aroostook.

I think of my great grandfather, Peter Mills, a merchant, deputy sheriff and carpenter on Deer Isle. I think of his son, my grandfather, the first Sumner Peter Mills, who served Hancock County as a legislator at the turn of the century, then moved to the mountains of western Maine to become a country lawyer and municipal judge.

I think of his son, my father, as a young boy of Farmington tramping through fields of Sandy River corn, climbing his beloved Mount Blue. I am proud of my mother, Katherine, still vibrant and with me today at age 89. She grew up on a potato farm in Ashland. Her mother, a traveling piano teacher, was the first woman north of Bangor to own a car.

My mother also became a teacher and taught for nearly 40 years in Warren, South Paris, Gorham, Wilton, and Farmington. It is her passion for educating the next generation that will guide and inspire me every day as Governor. My father went to Colby, spent a summer inspecting blueberries in the barrens of Washington County, and then headed to law school. Upon returning to Maine, he stood for the legislature, married my mother and began to raise a family. My parents became good friends with Congressman Clyde Smith and Clyde's wife Margaret.

As a child, I proudly listened on the radio to Senator Smith declare her conscience to the U.S. Senate. I learned from her the value of bringing people together to resolve problems. As Governor I will insure that Margaret Chase Smith's thoughts, her fortitude, her ability to get things done, will be the driving forces of my administration.

After Pearl Harbor, my father would resign his seat in the Maine House, not because he loved the legislature less. He simply loved our nation more. When the war was finally over and his service ended, he returned home to serve his neighbors in his country law practice and in the House and Senate always standing as a Republican. He became Maine's federal prosecutor for 16 years under two Republican presidents.

Like my father before me, I was born in the foothills of western Maine. When I was 10, we moved to Gorham where I graduated from high school. I earned a Navy scholarship to Harvard. I served 5 years aboard Navy destroyers in the Pacific and the Tonkin Gulf during Vietnam.

Let me pause here to say how proud I am today of our military people from Maine, leaving their families and state to defend our freedom with remarkable skill and extraordinary courage, they have done us proud. They deserve our support our appreciation---amd our applause. Please join me in applauding the men and women from Maine who are serving in our armed forces today.

After my Navy service, I came home, raised my family, worked in Portland 9 years, then returned to my roots in western Maine where I have owned my own firm for 23 years.For the last twelve years, 10 in the Senate and 2 in the House, I have represented my fellow citizens of Somerset County. It is with these experiences and that approach to life that I stand before you today ready to lead.

I believe our fellow citizens from Eliot to Easton from Cornish to Calais look not for a hand out but for a hand up; not for government giveaways but for governance that is intelligent and fair.

Governor John Baldacci co-opted our state motto Dirigo, meaning "I lead," to describe his health care scheme that is driving more people out of health care than are being protected within it. No one from medical providers to insurers to employers has found anything to like about it. Instead of "Dirigo," he should have coined the term "Trado." which means "I surrender?" As governor, I will lead our state into a health plan that truly helps those in need without punishing the very people who are struggling to pay their bills, those who most deserve our support. We will not tolerate a tax scam run amuck.

The test of any governor's performance is the ability to lead Maine's Department of Health & Human Services. It is bigger by far than any of Maine's private businesses. It is where half of your hard earned tax money ends up. Yet the department is in disarray. Morale has seldom been lower. Leadership comes and it goes. Well meaning workers find their efforts blunted by helter skelter leadership. Policies perpetuate dependency, and toxically spread to new populations through a frustrated governor's search for votes.

And still we fail to pay the bill. Our hospitals must lend their credit to the state so that the Democrats may give away free health care to thousands of new enrollees. P.J. O'Rourke quipped, "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."

John Baldacci is unable to comprehend economics. He believes in budget schemes rather than fiscal integrity.He believes in fire sales , selling the state's liquor revenues and pawning the proceeds of our lottery. He impulsively bets the taxpayers' hard earned dollars like a gambler repeatedly pulling the lever of a slot machine.

A year ago Baldacci and the Democrats passed a 447 million dollar borrowing scheme. It was you the Republican foot who responded to my call by gathering 40,000 signatures to stop him. It was you who forced the governor and the Democrats to shrink millions of dollars in spending out of their bloated budget.

John Baldacci too often claims credit for all of Maine's successes, while blaming others for his failures. Two weeks ago he took credit for Maine's population increase while blaming Governor King for population losses in the nineties. On April 19 while "ceremonially" signing legislation, Governor Baldacci informed us that "Rural areas exist throughout Maine." This is no doubt comforting to my country neighbors in Somerset County. We eagerly await the day that Baldacci claims credit for the beginning of summer in June.

The time has come to clean the governor's office of patronage and party interests. It is time to return the state to its citizens. It is time to stop the malefactors of special privilege from squandering the public good and buying influence through money and favors.

I run as a clean election candidate unwilling to pander to money, proud that Maine citizens from Aroostook to York County gathered my petitions and support, proud that I did not need to pay others to garner them.

As Governor I will be able to hear the working people because I won't be listening to the people working for paid interests. I want to appoint men and women with experience in the private sector; who know the soul of Maine, people to paraphrase the first Governor King , "who (will) discharge their duties with fidelity to the people and credit to it."

In the 1930's there was a time when it seemed unlikely that the Appalachian Trail could reach Katahdin. The way was blocked by an impenetrable wilderness between Monson and the West Penobscot. But a man named Helon Taylor persevered to clear the trail. Taylor would serve much of the nineteen fifties and sixties as supervisor of Baxter State Park. I met him at the age of 12 when I made the first of my many climbs up Katahdin. The trail to Katahdin by way of Pamola Peak is named in his honor because Taylor always believed what we as Mainers still believe - both in ourselves and in our government. Our challenges may be great, but they are not insurmountable. Together, we too can blaze new trails, overcome fresh obstacles, and lead with wisdom and common sense. The road to the Blaine House starts right here. Trust me to know the way. Today is the first day in Maine's future. We need to seize upon it. With the deep respect that I have for each of you here today, I ask for your support to be Maine's next Governor. It is only with a unified party and a leader who can unite all our people that we will win in November! When it comes to winning the governorship, when it comes to the heart and soul of our state,... I mean business. Thank you all.