2016-08-11 / Front Page

Republicans announce candidate for Senate District 32

Although young, Matt Stone has long political history
Staff Writer

Stone Stone BIDDEFORD — Officials with the York County Republican Committee announced Wednesday that they have found a replacement candidate for the Senate District 32 nomination.

Jim Booth, chairman of the committee, said the committee will recognize Republican Matt Stone, 28, of Biddeford as the nominee. Stone will square off against incumbent Democrat Susan Deschambault in the Nov. 8 general election.

Booth said Stone stepped forward seeking the nomination, and was declared the winner of a caucus held on Friday. He will replace Republican Steve Martin of Biddeford, who announced his withdrawal from the race last week due to medical reasons.

Senate District 32 includes Biddeford, Alfred, Arundel, Kennebunkport, Dayton and Lyman.

Stone said Wednesday that he came forward following a recent scandal involving Booths’ emails to GOP members referring to Democratic candidate for Senate District 31, Justin Chenette, who is openly gay, as “Little Justine.” Booth also said “there was a lot of hate” for Chenette following his win against Democrat Barry Hobbins in June.

Chenette is also employed by the Journal Tribune as a digital advertising executive.

Stone, who is openly bisexual, said he worries people will think Booth is using him to “quell the controversy” surrounding the email scandal, as pressure continues to build for Booth to resign.

“That’s not the angle at all,” Stone said. “I came to him because I want to help build a better brand for the Republican Party. It’s going in a new direction. It’s going to be a less conservative party, from the presidential nominee all the way down the local candidates.”

Stone, who grew up in Litchfield and now resides in Biddeford, is a graduate of Oak Hill High School. He worked on the gubernatorial campaign for Peter Mills in 2010.

When he moved to Biddeford, Stone worked for EqualityMaine, which seeks to expand the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and was a major component of Maine’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2012.

Stone also serves on the Maine Credit Union League, for which his opponent, Deschambault, is a representative.

“One of the great things about this race is we have two candidates that care about providing financial services to the community and don’t take advantage of them. I’m glad there’s some common ground I’ve got with Ms. Deschambault,” Stone said.

Martin withdrew from the race after the July 25 deadline to replace candidates, but state statute allows a for the nomination of a replacement candidate if a candidate withdraws due to a catastrophic illness that permanently and continuously incapacitates and would prevent performance of the duties of the office.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Dunlap accepted Martin’s doctor’s note and formally declared the nomination’s vacancy on Aug. 4. The Republican Party had until Aug. 18 to announce a replacement candidate.

Stone said his youth will help him win the Senate seat, and that he is “not part of the establishment,” unlike his opponent.

“(Deschambault) is chairman of the (Biddeford) Planning Board. She’s been a rubber stamp for the establishment for some time now, and she’s a foot soldier, as some would put it. And that’s OK, but I think there’s some things wrong with the way city government operates,” Stone said. “There’s a lot of concern about corruption in the city, and it seems the fish rots from the head, and on the way down, there’s all these problems.”

Stone said he first wants to tackle crime in the city and give police the necessary resources to take on the heroin epidemic, which is sweeping across several communities in York County. Stone said he wants to expand rehabilitation and education for drug addicts.

Stone, who noted he is rather progressive and called himself a “Teddy Roosevelttype Republican,” said he is glad to see downtown Biddeford being revitalized, but thinks the issues are being masked behind newly-painted facades.

“Sometimes, it seems like they’re just papering over these problems. There’s still all this crime, there’s still all these drugs, all these issues,” he said. “For me as kind of a law and order-type Republican, I want to get to the root causes of social problems.”

Stone said he will stick to his guns in defending the Second Amendment, saying LGBT people “need to be aware of all the hate that’s out there” after the fatal shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June that killed 49 people.

He said his campaign will focus primarily on Biddeford, which historically has been a Democratic powerhouse. In his campaign efforts, he said he will be going door-to-door and taking time to get to know the people in the district to bring their voices forward.

“I’m going to be doing a lot of talking, but at least half as much listening to people,” he said.

Announcement of Smith’s nomination for Senate follows word that Tim Sevingy of Saco will replace Republican William Gombar of Old Orchard Beach in the race for Senate District 31. Gombar dropped out of the race on July 11.

“I think both Sevigny and Stone are young and fresh people that just want to make a change,” Booth said. “It’s good when you get people that want to step forward, both in not the easiest political feats in the state. But they wanted to step forward and work hard, and I think in both cases, those districts would be well-serviced by them.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article that ran on Thursday, Aug. 11 incorrectly stated the hometown of Republican Senate District 32 replacement candidate Matthew Stone. Stone is from Litchfield. The article also mislabeled the party to which former Senate District 31 candidate Barry Hobbins belongs. Hobbins is a democrat. 

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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