SOUTH PORTLAND – Republican Peter Cianchette of South Portland, who lost the 2002 gubernatorial race to John Baldacci, is again running for governor.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate David Emery withdrew his name as a candidate, the Maine Republican Party announced.

Emery, a former Maine member of the U.S. House of Representatives, pulled out Thursday saying in a press release that a “protracted and expensive primary election contest” where he would compete against Cianchette is not something his party needs. The Republican nominee needs to focus on defeating Baldacci, Emery said.

Cianchette filed papers Thursday at the secretary of state’s office launching his campaign. He’s running as a traditional candidate, which means he will not use taxpayer money for his campaign.

He said he decided to run to change the direction in which Maine is headed.

“We need to put our state back on a different track,” Cianchette said Thursday afternoon. “I believe there are issues that are challenging the state of Maine that must be addressed with determination. I will offer a specific vision and plan to put Maine on the right track.”

When asked what that plan is, Cianchette said Mainers are working in a state with a poor economy where landing a good quality job is difficult.

“Taxes are too high. The state budget is a mess,” Cianchette said. Baldacci’s health care insurance program and policy “is not working,” he said.

If elected, Cianchette said he would change health care policy, the Dirigo Health program created by Baldacci. “The governor has led the state more and more with the state involved in running health care. That’s not a direction we need.” The private sector and private market is the way to bring down spiraling health care costs, he said.

Reacting to news that his old challenger is back, Baldacci defended his record.

As governor, he has met challenges and moved Maine’s economy forward, “from successfully addressing a $1.2 billion shortfall when I took office, to fighting the BRAC listing of our military installations,” Baldacci said in a statement.

In the last three years, more than 13,000 new jobs have been added to the economy, Baldacci said. “Through Pine Tree Zones, Dirigo Health and other initiatives, we are succeeding in creating opportunities for all Maine citizens,” he said.

During the 2002 campaign, both Cianchette and Baldacci had similar plans for reducing the state’s deficit: freeze spending, then limit future spending with caps. Both favored cutting taxes, and both said they would not raise taxes. Health care was the issue on which the two significantly differed.

Baldacci said the state must act to try to cover more people, and favored state government’s creating a better health system with the goal of providing universal health care. After Baldacci was elected, he signed Dirigo Health into law with the goal of expanding coverage, lowering costs and improving quality.

Cianchette’s 2002 health care plans were to study what was driving health costs, give consumers information, and use a federal waiver to allow more people to buy private insurance.

Former Senate President Rick Bennett, a Norway Republican, said it’s “heartening” that Cianchette is in the race. Like at least two other Republicans, Bennett himself is considering running for governor, a decision he’ll make by the fall, he said Thursday.

Bennett said he and others are dismayed by the lack of leadership from Augusta. “Anybody trying to raise a family here and eke out a living has to be concerned about the future of Maine.”

Rep. Scott Lansley, R-Sabattus, said he’s happy that Cianchette is running. “He knows how to balance a budget. He’s created jobs. He’s had to make payrolls. He’s what we need.”

Cianchette’s loss in 2002 will help him in 2006, Lansley predicted, because Cianchette has the name recognition he then lacked. “His message will resonate better now.”

In the last gubernatorial election, Baldacci was elected with 48 percent of the vote. Cianchette came in second with 41 percent. Green Party candidate Jonathan Carter received 9 percent, and independent John Michael of Auburn 2 percent.

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