We are at a turning point in the history of Maine.
After years of moving Maine forward toward freedom, economic prosperity and personal liberty for Maine people, we are now in deep danger of falling backward into the old days of nanny state government, robbing more of our paychecks and telling us how to live.
As the new year is upon us, I am launching the Free Maine Campaign to fight for the freedoms and paychecks of Maine people against the nanny state politicians in Augusta.
I believe making our voice heard in Augusta is more important than ever if we are to preserve our liberties for future generations of Maine people.
It has been a long road for me, but let me tell you why I've made this decision.
Seven years ago, I stepped into the arena of Maine politics for the first time.
Inspired by former Congressman Ron Paul --- who rallied millions across America to fight for the restoration of our constitutional liberties --- I became a grassroots activist and eventually an organizer for his 2012 Presidential Campaign.
Together, all of us involved, built a grassroots insurrection and won the state of Maine in what was called the "biggest political coup in Maine history."
We took that fight on behalf of Maine people all the way to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where we witnessed the party establishment break the rules and disrespect the voters of our state to silence the message of liberty.
But Maine people aren't known for sitting silently while our freedoms are being stolen.
We stood our ground and fought for what was right knowing the odds were stacked against us.
We didn't win that year. Ron Paul was not to become our president.
But we returned home with our heads held high knowing we had given our all to represent those who had placed their trust in us.
I was personally devastated by the loss, but knew we had made many significant victories during the course of the campaign.
And as a friend reminded me, the seeds of many great victories were planted in the soil of failing campaigns.
"Without Barry Goldwater there would have been no Ronald Reagan."
I asked myself, "Where others see failure, what future great victories for the cause of liberty might we be planting right now? If we keep building towards a vision of restored freedom for Maine people, what might we accomplish?"
That's why I threw my efforts into electing state legislators, organizing grassroots efforts to support the campaigns of liberty champions like Rep. Heather Sirocki, Rep. Beth O'Connor and former Rep. Aaron Libby.
But the job is never over on Election Day, so we continued working and organizing to take the fight directly into the halls of Augusta, ensuring liberty voices were loudly heard on the important issues.
In those years, despite large Democrat majorities in the Maine House and Senate, we brought the grassroots to Augusta and successfully defeated all new gun control proposals and nearly passed constitutional carry into law (failing in the House by a single vote).
Organizing grassroots movements from the outside, we were able to mount a strong defense for our freedoms, but that wasn't enough.
We can never rest at holding the line to protect the liberties we currently have. We should be working to win back the liberties that we have lost.
And I knew I could go on the offense better from the inside.
That's why I ran for the Maine Senate in 2014.
While juggling my day job and acting at my local community theatre, I decided to run in a Democrat-leaning district against an entrenched incumbent who had been in elected office for 36 consecutive years.
Frankly, the establishment said our campaign had no chance. Many said it was "cute" that someone as young as me would run for office.
But through tremendous hard work --- personally knocking on nearly 8,000 doors to spread our campaign message --- we won that race in an 18 point landslide that shocked politicos across Maine.
For the last four years, it has been an incredible honor and privilege to represent the communities of Auburn, New Gloucester, Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls in the Maine Senate.
Elected at the age of 26, I was certainly a little out of place among my colleagues.
Not only was I the youngest State Senator in Maine, I was the youngest state senator in the entire nation.
But when you know what you are fighting for, things like that just don't slow you down.
Appointed to chair the Health and Human Services Committee, I was dropped right into some of the biggest legislative challenges in Augusta.
I won my election on a promise to reform welfare and I immediately went to work, sponsoring more welfare reform bills than any other legislator and negotiating reforms to prohibit abusive purchases, like alcohol and cigarettes, with our tax dollars.
Believing that government should not interfere with our right to make our own choices in healthcare, I ushered through legislation to restore the Right to Try non-FDA approved medications for terminally ill patients and expanded freedom for medical cannabis patients to access their medicine.
But I'm most proud of the tremendous grassroots effort we built together to pass Constitutional Carry into law, so that all law-abiding Maine people can exercise their right to keep and bear arms without a permission slip from the government.
The passage of Constitutional Carry was a tremendous legislative battle that we only won because of the incredible work of grassroots people across Maine.
No one in Augusta had ever seen a liberty-based grassroots effort of that magnitude.
The loud voices of so many Maine people are precisely why Constitutional Carry passed both the Republican Senate and the Democrat House to be signed into law by Governor Paul LePage.
We made a great deal of progress on key issues, but during my second term --- as I watched our liberties continue to slip away from us and our national debt continue to spiral out of control --- I kept asking myself if we, as Maine people, could do more to avert the terrible future ahead of us.
That's why I ran for the US Senate this past year.
With the support and encouragement of friends, family and countless supporters, I jumped into a race knowing it would be an incredibly difficult campaign against a man the media repeatedly told us was "the most popular US Senator in America."
The media loves to gush over Angus King's talk of independence and moderation, but when I looked at Angus King's actual voting record, I saw something completely different.
Despite the cheap rhetoric, we didn't have an independent US Senator, but one beholden to the Washington DC special interests.
Over the last quarter century, King had personally enriched himself and his family on the revolving door of corporate and government power, all while voting to erode our constitutional liberties and hand out billions in corporate welfare to his friends.
I believed Maine could do better. I still believe we can do better.
Through four televised debates, I held Angus King accountable and took him to task for his unconstitutional anti-freedom agenda.
It went so poorly for King that, by the third debate, he was grasping for a pocket Constitution just to prove that he owned one.
Sadly on Election Day, we weren't able to overcome the Blue Wave and the huge advantages of name recognition that Angus King has after a quarter century in Maine politics.
But I am tremendously proud of the strong grassroots campaign we ran.
As I took the message of liberty across our state, I met so many freedom-loving Maine people ready to pitch in and help out in any way they could.
We had more active volunteers than any other Republican campaign in the state with over a hundred-thousand doors knocked, countless parades and even a HUGE rally with Senator Rand Paul.
Thanks to the hard hard work of all our volunteers, we ran a strong campaign.
- Earning 35% in a three-way race, we earned the same percentage as Angus King when he won his first race for Governor.
- Earning 222,000 votes, we earned more votes than Paul LePage when he first won the Governorship.
- Our campaign was the strongest opposition Angus King has ever faced, outperforming every past opponent he has ever squared off against, including Susan Collins, Charlie Summers and Jim Longley, Jr.
In another year, the level of statewide support we earned would have been enough to win the US Senate seat, but this was not our year.
But while our campaign may have been the tip of the spear for the Maine liberty movement, we were not the only game in town.
The Maine liberty movement saw big victories in November with the election of new liberty champions to Augusta, including Rep. Justin Fecteau of Augusta, Rep. John Andrews of Paris and Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham of Winter Harbor.
Expect to see and hear great things from them in the near future.
But what I treasure most was seeing the spirit of liberty alive in so many young people.
When I look in their eyes, I remember the excitement I first had in those early days hearing the message of liberty from Dr. Ron Paul and how far that message carried me over seven quick years.
It gives me optimism that, despite short-term defeats, the seeds of future victories are being planted today.
And if we are going to preserve our liberties for the next generation, then we must do two things:
1. Mount a grassroots defense to charge into the halls of Augusta and defend our freedoms right now.
2. Train and prepare future liberty leaders for the long fight ahead.
I believe we can do this, but not if we sit around feeling sorry for ourselves and bemoaning the results of last November.
That's why I'm launching the Free Maine Campaign.
The mission of the Free Maine Campaign is to protect the freedom and paychecks of Maine people from big government politicians in Augusta and Washington DC.
We will accomplish this by organizing and training grassroots Maine people to get actively involved in the big fights ahead.
Already, Janet Mills and her big government allies in Augusta are preparing a legislative agenda to strip us of countless liberties, including our gun rights and our right to use the money we earn.
We must be ready to stand up for ourselves and I want you to join me.
Let's keep fighting for our freedoms. Future generations of Maine people are counting on us.
P.S. It has been a very long road for us all in the fight for liberty here in Maine. Over the years, we have seen both great victories and disappointing defeats, but the mission has never changed.
If we are going to preserve our freedoms as Maine people for future generations, then we have to get organized and take action right now to stop Janet Mills and the nanny state politicians in Augusta from enacting their big government agenda to strip it all away from us.
That's why I am launching the Free Maine Campaign --- to protect the freedoms and paychecks of Maine people.