February 12

Saviello challenger drops run for Senate seat

John Frary said he was turned around partly by backlash and partly because he didn’t want to fuel rumors caused by his candidacy for the Senate District 17 seat held by the popular Wilton Republican.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

And Michael Shepherd

(Continued from page 1)

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Those few Republicans who have supported expansion — or simply indicated open-mindedness toward it — have been targeted by conservative groups.

Saviello was on a list of 14 Republican lawmakers released on Facebook earlier by Maine Taxpayers United, a conservative group led by Beth O’Connor, of Berwick, the former vice chairwoman of the state GOP. The post urges people to contact the legislators and tell them to vote against expansion.

In a blog post cheering Frary’s initial entry to the race, O’Connor criticized Saviello, saying she “would love to see John crush Tom in the primary, but it is said Tom lacks the intestinal fortitude for a primary and will jump ship and run as an independent.”

Similarly, the Maine Heritage Policy Center started running Facebook ads targeting Republicans thought to be considering voting for expansion, including Reps. Corey Wilson and Matthew Pouliot, both of Augusta.

On Tuesday, Pouliot said on Twitter that “he’s keeping an open mind” toward expansion. Wilson said the more he’s attacked by O’Connor’s group, the more he may lean toward supporting expansion.

Saviello said Wednesday he can think of about five people who contacted him because they are against the expansion, and he said he replies to messages or meets with those residents to explain his stance.

“I’ve also had hundreds talk to me about the expansion who are in favor of it. They are the ones who gave me the margins that I win by in the elections, and I have a duty to represent them,” he said.

He said his decision, made through research and resident opinions, was not swayed by news coverage of Frary.

“I don’t negotiate in the press,” he said. “One of the biggest employers in the area, the hospital, has given their support, which is one of the main reasons for my support (of expansion).”

Frary said he still feels strongly about Medicaid expansion.

“I still feel that Medicaid expansion would be detrimental to the economy,” Frary said. “The population does not want to hear about more taxes, and what is going to happen when the money runs out?”

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.comMichael Shepherd — 370-7652 mshepherd@centralmaine.com Twitter: @mikeshepherdme@mikeshepherdme

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