Demi Kouzounas, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, addresses delegates Saturday during the second day of the Maine Republican Party convention at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Maine Republicans, in a fighting mood a little more than six months before state and federal elections, on Saturday approved a platform that rounds the bases on conservative issues such as news coverage, foreign policy, abortion and school curriculum.

The meeting, which drew 1,400 delegates, was dominated by supporters of former President Donald Trump, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee. T-shirts, buttons and signs promoting his candidacy blanketed the Augusta Civic Center and several vehicles in the parking lot. Trump won Maine’s GOP primary on March 5, trouncing former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley with nearly 73% of the vote.

Republican chairman Joel Stetkis set the tone of the second day of the party’s convention in a speech blasting Democrats.

“They want us to believe that Bidenomics and the economy is booming,” he said. “They want us to believe the southern border has never been more secure and that taking our guns away makes us more safe. This is as ridiculous as telling us there are 107 different genders.”

The platform prohibits public school curriculum in pre-K through grade 12 from promoting subject matter related to hormone replacement therapy or surgical gender reassignment practices. It prohibits the teaching or promotion of biological genders other than those of male and female, “while accepting those who exhibit physical intersex traits from birth.”

The platform also calls for a requirement that voters prove they are U.S. citizens and ending taxpayer-funded abortion.


Among a dozen amendments voted on over more than two hours, four were approved. One adopted proposal calls on the Legislature to prohibit the National Guard from fighting in foreign wars without a declaration of war by Congress, as required by the Constitution. Despite U.S. military involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, the last time Congress declared war was after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The states are in charge of National Guard troops at times of domestic emergencies, Sen. Eric Brakey of Androscoggin said. Congress can call on state national guards to suppress insurrections, repel invasions or enforce laws, he said.

Delegates applaud Saturday during a speech by Maine Republican Party Chair Joel Stetkis during Maine Republican Party convention at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Maine Guardsmen “have been sent overseas into wars that never end with no mission and no end in sight,” he said.

Several states are signing on to the initiative, known as “Defend the Guard,” which criticizes “broadly worded” Authorizations to Use Military Force passed by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks. Advocates say the authorizations are not the same as a declaration of war by Congress.

Republicans also call for a “comprehensive and thoughtful energy policy that minimizes adverse environmental and fiscal impacts.” The party platform demands an end to a 100-megawatt cap on hydropower – a policy that dates to 2012, when then-Gov. Paul LePage unsuccessfully sought legislation to remove a limit on renewable energy credits for hydropower. He said the move would draw cheap and plentiful power from Quebec.

The convention approved an amendment to the platform that defends the right to a free press without censorship or “undue bias.” The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, National Public Radio and media generally were accused of bias. Trump and many other Republicans accuse the media of favoring liberal politicians and policymakers.


Delegates who opposed the measure said it was vague and could violate the First Amendment.

By a narrow margin, delegates rejected a proposal to return the U.S. to the gold standard, an issue that animated the 1896 presidential campaign and was settled in 1933 when U.S. currency was no longer linked to gold. Backers sought to add the amendment to the platform, arguing it would prevent “manipulation of the currency” and help resist inflation.

“This is a huge overreach,” one delegate told the convention. “It’s an incredibly complex issue. It doesn’t belong in our platform and I think it would make us look stupid.”

Delegates applaud Saturday during the Maine Republican Party convention at the Augusta Civic Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Republicans’ skepticism of government factored in the defeat of a platform amendment calling for restoration of the death penalty “for certain egregious crimes.” Capital punishment was last used in Maine in the 19th century. Critics overwhelmed supporters, arguing that government has wrongly convicted some suspects, with one delegate saying capital punishment could be abused.

“Do they think they can put Donald Trump to death if they can get away with it?” he asked.

Arthur Langley, an alternate delegate from Harrington, said the platform is “not that critical.” Wearing a bright red Trump T-shirt, a “Make America Great Again” hat, and a button and a pin declaring his presidential preference, Langley said the Republican platform would have more clout if Republicans controlled the state Legislature.

Republicans last enjoyed a majority in the House and Senate and occupied the Blaine House in 2011 and 2012. The trifecta of state power has been in Democratic hands since 2019.

“You can’t implement a platform unless you have a majority,” Langley said. “I have no objections to platforms. I have objections to Democratic majorities in the Legislature.”

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