Outgoing GOP Chairman Webster Sounds Off On Democrats and Rift With LePage Staffers
Less than a week after Republicans lost control of the Maine Legislature, the chairman of the Maine GOP has announced he will not seek re-election.Charlie Webster made that announcement in an email to fellow Republicans Thursday. “I told my wife I’d do it for 4 years. I’d run and try to make a difference and I think we did,” Webster told TV 5 Friday morning.Webster’s four year run as Republican party chair was marked by extreme highs and lows. He came under fire from Ron Paul supporters last year over his handling of the Maine’s presidential caucuses. He also was criticized after Paul supporters took over the state convention and failed to be seated at the national convention.Two years ago, on Webster’s watch, Republican’s dominated the 2010 election when Governor Paul LePage was elected while Republicans seized control of the House and Senate for the first time in four decades.However, shortly after that 2010 election, Webster says he butted heads with members of the LePage team. “When the governor first got elected, his campaign guru Brent Littlefield, who is the guy the governor relies on, actually called me and told me I wasn’t gonna be chairman again and the governor was gonna run the party. I said, ‘That’s really not gonna happen. I’m gonna stay in and run again.’ I did and we’ve had a rift since then. I don’t have anything to do with Mr. Littlefield at this point,” Webster said Friday.His decision to step down was partially tied to Tuesday’s election results and the rift with LePage staffers. “I decided if we didn’t win the legislature I would let the governor and his people who want to run the government, want to run the party, let them run it. We’ll see what they can do. They believe they were the reason we won the legislature last time. We’ll see.”Tuesday, Democrats took back the majorities in the House and Senate, a feat Webster attributes to money. “The biggest concern for me is the Democrats spent about $2 million more than we did,” Webster said. “We raised record money for us. We raised almost $2 million, which is a lot of money, but they spent about $4 million. But that’s okay.” But he has no doubts about where that money came from or what motivated the contributors. “Every person that benefits from tax payer dollars donated to the Democrats. They had teacher’s unions, public employee’s union, labor unions, the non-profits. They have a right to donate to politics and they did. They lost the power. They wanted the power back.”Webster says now that Democrats have the power back the road could be a lot tougher for LePage. “We now have the most liberal legislature in the entire country,” Webster said. “They’re not gonna want to keep government spending under control, they’re gonna want to do what they believe in. More government spending. The governor will hold them back for a couple years, hopefully.”Republican state committee members will meet next month to elect new leaders.Former Naple’s State Representative Rich Cebra is rumored to be one of the leading candidates to take over as GOP party chair.