Garrett Mason, Maine Senate majority leader, is among four Republicans who would like to succeed Gov. Paul LePage.
Mason was first elected to the Maine Senate in 2010. He is currently serving his fourth term and is now the Senate majority leader. Mason has worked for the Portland Sea Dogs, the city’s AA baseball team, and for the Lewiston MAINEiacs hockey team as a business administrator. He is currently a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Portland.
Mason holds a bachelor’s from Pensacola Christian College and did graduate work at Southern New Hampshire University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Mason told Maine Public’s Steve Mistler why he thinks GOP voters would want him:
Mistler: There are three other Republican candidates in this race, and many of them are promoting similar ideas. But what specific proposal or proposals makes you different than your primary opponents?
Mason: A constant, steady, experienced hand in the Legislature. I think that’s what makes me different than the other people that you see on the Republican ticket. You know, you need somebody who has been through the mill. And I think sometimes people are looking for some big, flashy new idea, but really what I think voters are looking for is ideas that work. And the ones that we’ve championed over the past eight years have. Lower taxes have led to more people having money in their pocket, better education in our schools — making sure that every dollar that is spent is thoughtfully spent. Those are ideas that work. And I think that you need a strong and steady leader that can do that.
Mistler: What is the biggest challenge facing Maine, in your view, and what would you do as governor to either remedy that or at least respond to it?
Mason: I think it’s workforce development. I think that we have a we have a problem on our hands — chicken and the egg problem, really — of workforce and jobs. But I think what we can focus on to fix it is making sure that the product that we’re turning out of our public schools is ready for the workforce. The liberal arts education has to meet up with career and technical education, and they need to be combined in the right way. And then, going forward, we have to have a Department of Labor that works with the Department of Education, and continuing education, throughout somebody’s life. So I think that’s a big piece of how we fix the workforce problem.
Mistler: Polls consistently show that the economy concerns voters the most. What would you do as a governor to help grow the economy?
Mason: Republicans believe in baking another pie. They don’t believe in splitting up this pie into smaller pieces. We are in an incredible position to grow Maine into the future. We’ve really set a stage where people have more money in their pocket. The state is getting more revenue. We’ve seen surplus after surplus. And now we have to attract those high-level jobs into our state that people are looking for. Maine has great opportunities as it is right now, but we need a governor who sees the world as it is, not as not as it used to be. And would be that governor — go out into the world, find the jobs that need to be in Maine, and make it happen.
Mistler: Maine voters will be using ranked-choice voting in the primary election. Now, I’m going to assume that you’re going to rank yourself as the top candidate. How are you going to rank the others?
Mason: That’s a safe assumption. You know, honestly, I had this conversation with my fiance the other day when ranked-choice voting started to really become a reality after the court decision. And it’s an interesting position to be in, where you have the other candidates that you’re fighting against on stage, you have to make a decision on where you’re going to rank them or if you do at all. So, honestly, I’m still thinking about it.
This interview has been edited for clarity. For a longer version of this interview, aired as part of a Public Affairs special program, click here. For more on Mason’s stances on the issues, and other Republicans in Maine’s gubernatorial race, click here. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.