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Charlie Webster Stepping Down as Chair of Maine GOP
11/09/2012   Reported By: Susan Sharon
Charlie Webster, Maine GOP Chair

The embattled chairman of the Maine Republican Party has announced that he will be stepping down at the end of his term this year. Charlie Webster said he has no regrets about his effort to get Republicans elected this year, despite the Democratic Party's majority victories in both the Maine House and Senate earlier this week, but he's learned some lessons from the opposition.

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Webster said he only ever planned to give the Republican Party four years as chair. If the Maine GOP had prevailed in the recent legislative elections Webster said he probably would have stayed on. But because it didn't he's retiring at the end of his term in December and he has no regrets about the effort he undertook on Republicans' behalf.

"We raised more money than ever before," said Webster. "We recruited the best candidates I think we ever had. You know, I think we did well. Unfortunately, we were outspent by about a couple million dollars. And I learned from what they did. It's an interesting process."

Webster said Democrats galvanized their base, especially low income voters, went door-to-door across the state and got the job done. As for the who takes over as the next chair of the state Republican Party, Webster predicts there will be major influence coming from the 2nd floor of the State House.

"The governor has wanted to, his folks have, particularly Brent Littlefield have really been aggressive since the governor was elected in wanting to run the party," Webster said. "So I assume that they'll find somebody. Who the committee chooses will be up to them but I think the governor is going to have a big play here and we'll see how much success Mr. Littlefield has in running the party."

Reached by cell phone, LePage political advisor Brent Littlefield dismissed any notion that he has plans to become the next GOP chairman or to run the party.

"You know, that's not something that we even answer as a question because it's just not even in the realm of possibility," said Littlefield. "The issue of who or who would not be the party chair of the Maine Republican Party is a minor story in terms of our overall focus on what the issues are that are driving the concerns of Maine people."

Littlefield said those issues include jobs and the economy along with wasteful government spending and making Maine more "family friendly." Republican strategist Lance Dutson said it's normal after any election to reassess leadership and priorities in the party.

"You know, we're moving into the governor's re-election cycle and I think it's typical that a team that's more closely aligned with the governor comes into run the party," Dutson said. "I think Charlie did a good job and I think it's a good time for some fresh blood in there, though."

One of the challenges Webster faced as party chair this year was a split between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul supporters. The more conservative members of the party even managed a takeover of the state party convention in May but were ultimately not all seated at the national convention. Some Paul supporters blamed Webster. But Webster said the chair's duty is to represent all members of the party, not just one faction or candidate.
"And what frustrates me is that there have been a lot of good people who have been shouted out," Webster said. "But I don't see the factions are as great as the press would have everybody believe."

The Republican state committee will meet December first to decide on party leaders.

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