Remarks by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud Announcing his run for Governor of Maine Noon, Thursday, Aug.
15, 2013 Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston As prepared Thank you so much Beth. I really appreciate those kind words. It’s great to be back here at the FrancoAmerican Heritage Center. I’m happy to be here today. It’s humbling to see so many friends here in the crowd, so many people who’ve stood with me through the years, and who have worked alongside me to get things done. Lewiston has always been a special place to me and to Maine. Strong with Franco1
American heritage, and a tradition of hard work and transformation. A place that provides opportunities for new arrivals to our state while maintaining its own distinct character. A city that learns from history, but looks toward the future. That’s why I’ve come here to Lewiston today. I want Maine to have a future of shared prosperity and opportunity with good jobs and a clean, healthy environment, where every child can get a quality public education and every family can have a chance to get ahead. We are at a crossroads. Personal and political attacks are standing in the way of progress.
Our state has become a punch line on late night TV. An abrasive, “my-way-or-the-highway” agenda alienates and divides our people. There are too many folks who are hurting. This morning I toured the SAPPI paper mill in Westbrook. Unlike most paper mills in Maine and across the country SAPPI is doing well. But, as I visited the mill and talked to workers, they told me they have less money in their pockets and more worries on their minds. They’re worried that Maine might be lagging behind the rest of the country. They’re worried that we’re not doing the things to get our state moving again. Unfortunately, they’re right.
Our national economy has started to recover from a terrible global recession. But Maine was one of just three states that lost jobs last year. We are being held back by a lack of leadership, by pettiness and anger and by policies that stand in the way of progress, growth and opportunity. It’s not leadership to rig the tax system so that the rich pay less while working families – homeowners – pay more. It’s not leadership to let out-of-state polluters write our environmental plans, and to turn our back on the jobs created by clean energy. And it sure as heck isn’t leadership to say no to health care for 70,000 people, including nearly 3,000 veterans.
Almost 49,000 Mainers are looking for work and can’t find it, while job-creating bonds – already approved by voters – were left unsigned on the governor’s desk. Much of the pain could have been avoided. Instead of helping Maine, the current governor’s extreme agenda is hurting. He’s attacked our cities, our towns and our workers. He’s attacked our teachers, our schools and our universities. He’s attacked our environment and our economy. This governor has put his thumb on the scale for the rich, the powerful and the connected.
He’s turned his back on good science, good business and the middle class. And he’s told our unemployed and our uninsured that they don’t count, that they don’t matter, that they’re on their own. He told nearly 3,000 Maine veterans that they don’t deserve health insurance, even though the federal government was willing to pick up the tab. I wish that he had fought half as hard for them as they have fought for us. And after devastating fires right here in Lewiston, when the city looked to him for help, he turned his back and said he’d “done his part.” It’s been three years of missed opportunities, broken promises and bad policies.
But that’s only part of the problem. The tone in Augusta has turned into an endless string of angry rants and partisan personal attacks. It’s a shame, and an embarrassment. And it’s not the way we do things here in Maine. That’s not the Maine I know. That’s not the Maine we all love. If we’re going to get back on the right track, we must forge a new path together. A path that honors the hard work of Mainers who get up every day and punch a clock, who fish our seas, who build our ships, who wait the tables, teach our kids, and care for the elderly, who grow our
food, who repair our streets, and who build our houses… That’s who I’m here for today. For the people who need a champion in Augusta. For the people who want nothing more than to provide for their families. For the people who won’t stand to be embarrassed by our politics for another day. It’s for all those people that I am running to be your next governor. We need a path that keeps the jobs that we have and creates new ones. A path that puts people to work and provides them with the skills and training
they need to lead our state toward a prosperous future; A path that grows our economy through innovation and that makes sure everyone gets the care they need, when they need it. Now is the time to invest in our children and our schools, so that our kids can get the world-class education they deserve. Now is the time to stand up to the big polluters, to ensure a clean, sustainable environment and to guarantee an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Now is the time to stand up for equality, for women, for minorities and for all people to have a fair shot at the American dream, and to make sure that government is open and accountable and working for the people.
And, most of all, now is the time to put divisive partisan politics aside and to restore leadership that will work for the people of Maine. I love Maine, and I’m running for governor because I still believe Maine’s best days are ahead of us. But I know that the only way for us to get there is by working together and putting the people of Maine first. I know we can do it because I’ve seen it first-hand. When I finished school, I went to work in the mill, like my father before me and my grandfather before him.
I worked alongside men and women who went to work every day, who played by the rules and asked only for a fair shake in return. I know what it means to work long shifts, to struggle to pay the bills, to not know if you’ll have a job next week, or next month, or next year. I’ll never forget those days, and the friends I made along the way. They taught me the value of hard work, honesty and integrity. They taught me what it means to stand up for what you believe in and to do what’s right. And they taught me how important it is to work together because that’s the only
way to get something done and solve problems. I first got involved in public service because the mill where I worked was polluting the river. The Penobscot, like the Androscoggin here in Lewiston, was the lifeblood of our region, and it was being poisoned. I was just a kid from Medway, hoping to make my community better. My full-time job was always working shifts at the mill. But I ran to be a part-time legislator for a reason – to clean up the river. And that’s just what we did.
I’ve fought to protect American jobs and to keep them right here in Maine. I’ve stood up for our veterans and made sure that our country keeps its promises when they come home. I’ve worked alongside many of you to protect our environment, to ensure that every Mainer can marry the person they love, and to end the War on Women at the state and national level. And I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats to expand access to quality health care for all Mainers, to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and to ensure that our seniors are treated with the respect they have earned. Maine faces real challenges, but we know what has to be done.
We won’t find the answer by giving tax breaks to the wealthy while working families pay more. It doesn’t work. And we all know it. We know the way forward. It’s right here: in the resources, in the communities, and, most of all, in the people who make our state great. We’ve got the best workforce in the world. All they need is a fair shot. Our cities and towns, working forests, farms and waterfronts are the key to economic growth and opportunity. We have to protect them. Our businesses can grow and innovate. And we can help them.
We can help people start the small businesses of their dreams. We can help the young entrepreneur in Phillips who’s making skis, so he has the help he needs to expand. We can help the baker in Kennebunk who hopes to open her own bakery but needs support to get off the ground. And once they get started, we need to make sure that they have the tools to grow, to profit, to add value to our communities and to create jobs. We need to create predictable rules and an environment that rewards people who are willing to take a risk on their dreams. Whether it’s a high-tech start up, the next Stonewall Kitchen or a farmer expanding beyond the local market.
We need to engage with our region, our country and the world. We need to tell the story of our successes. And we need to restore our brand. We need good roads, strong bridges and safe rails to move our people and the things they make to markets at home and around the world. There are entrepreneurs all across Maine. We need to connect them to each other, to new markets and to new resources so we can create good-paying jobs and strengthen the middle class. I’m running to be your next governor because I love this state and the people who live here, and when I think about
where we are heading, I feel a sense of urgency. We need a change, and I believe that now — right now — is the time for Maine to make its move. The time to put aside the attacks and the distractions and the anger, to embrace an honest accounting of our strengths and our challenges, to map a path forward that recognizes where we are, but also focuses on where we want to be, and to aspire to the greatness that lives within our people and our communities. We will set our own course — a Maine course — that rebuilds a shared prosperity and a brighter future. Maine deserves a governor who will use the power of the office to convince others to work together to do what’s right.
I’m not running “against” anyone. I’m running for the people of Maine because I believe in our state and the unmatched potential of our people. Now, I’m not going to pretend this campaign will be easy. It’s not. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and a lot of shoe leather. But don’t worry. I’ve got the perfect shoes for the job. These are my campaign shoes. They’re made right here in Maine by workers at the New Balance factory in Norridgewock. They say “Michaud 2014” on the heels.
But what’s more important is what they say inside: “Made in the USA.” During this campaign, I plan to cover a lot of miles in these shoes. Knock on a lot of doors. Listen to the problems facing Mainers and figure out real solutions we can achieve together. But I can’t do it alone. If we want change, we have to make it happen. Together. I need your help. I need you to talk to your friends and neighbors. I need you to build a strong, grassroots campaign because, I’m ready.
I’m ready to work for the Maine we all want. I’m ready to move our state past the anger and fighting of the last three years. I’m ready to lead Maine down a new path. Together, I know we can do it. I punched a time clock for a lot of years. I know when it’s time to get to work. Now it’s time! I’m ready! Thank you!