Maine Candidates for Governor Square Off in First Debate of Election Season

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PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) Half of the more than 20-people running for governor met Wednesday in their first debate of the election cycle.

The debate was organized by the Associated General Contractors of Maine.

Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette threw the first punch during his opening statement.

"i'm also a life-long republican, principled republican," Fredette said. "It's not something that I came to recently."

A swipe at businessman Shawn Moody - a recent convert to the republican party.

"I don't have any political background. i'm not a legislator or a lawyer, lobbyist," said Moody. "I'm just a business guy, just like you guys."

The ten candidates - four democrats, four republicans, and two independents - played to their audience: a room full of builders and tradespeople.

"Every hometown in this state, it's harder to find a plumber, an electrician, a finish carpenter, or a mason than it is to find a lawyer," said candidate Adam Cote (D).

Much of the discussion about jobs, education, and energy was framed in terms of what state government should and should not be doing to promote growth.

"We've got to be aggressive in introducing more affordable energy options in this state and get government out of the way," said candidate Mary Mayhew (R).

"Not every solution has to come from government," said candidate Terry Hayes (I).

It wasn't all economics. The candidates also talked about the opioid crisis that is killing, on average, more than one Mainer a day.

"It's a national tragedy, it's a national embarrassment, and the Maine legislature has failed to properly address this issue," said Fredette.

"When I was sheriff and trying to help addicts get a job, some of you took that risk," said candidate Sen. Mark Dion (D). "Some of you were willing to take that journey with them."