Ken Fredette, an attorney from Newport and the House minority leader in the Maine Legislature, announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor Wednesday.

Fredette, also an officer in the Maine Air National Guard, has been a staunch ally of Republican Gov. Paul LePage. He repeatedly kept the Republican caucus at LePage’s side during legislative sessions, helping to sustain the governor’s vetoes of numerous bills.

Fredette made his announcement just hours before his fellow Republican lawmaker, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, was to have made his own campaign for governor official at a rally in Lewiston. But Mason issued a statement early Wednesday morning canceling that event because of the death of his mother.

Fredette, 53, is one of the higher-profile lawmakers and the third Republican to enter the 2018 race, joining Mason and former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, who announced her candidacy in June. Fredette is serving his fourth term representing House District 100 and cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Fredette and his House Republicans stood with LePage during the state government shutdown in July and fought to repeal a voter-passed bill that would have tacked a 3 percent surcharge on household incomes over $200,000 in Maine.

House Republicans also stood behind LePage as other State House leaders were calling for a special legislative session in order to censure the governor for comments he made in an obscenity-laced voicemail left for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, in August 2016.

In addition to the three Republicans, there are nine Democrats, two Green Party members and one independent candidate in the Blaine House race.

Fredette said he intended to campaign on his record and on the Republican accomplishments made in the last seven years working with LePage to lower taxes, reform welfare programs and improve the state’s economy. Fredette said he hoped to couple his 30 years of experience working for Republican candidates with his military experience and would run on his own record as a fiscal conservative.

Fredette pointed to his lifelong party loyalty going back to working on the presidential campaign of former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., in 1996.

“My military experience gives me a perspective about understanding the sacrifices that people in the military make and in this state, particularly the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, I think I can bring that all together in a message that we want to stay the course,” Fredette said.

Fredette said he was all but announcing his campaign but was hedging slightly because he has an out-of-state deployment coming up with the Air National Guard that would keep him sidelined from politics for a few weeks.

“But for that reason, I’m announcing that I’m running for governor,” Fredette said. “And the reason is I believe we’ve made a real difference over the last seven years.” He said that with LePage, House Republicans presided over the two biggest income tax cuts in state history, while reducing the state’s regular budget shortfalls and deflating a so-called “structural gap” in the budget related to state pensions.

“I don’t want to see Maine move backwards,” Fredette said. “I’m going to run on my record for what I think I’ve done in the Legislature. I’ve had to cast some tough votes, you know, stopping Medicaid expansion. I was the one that had to pass the tough votes, and lead the caucus in debate.”

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