Web exclusive, June 28, 2018
Rep. Karl Ward withdraws from House race
Sherman Hutchins tapped for party nomination
State Representative Karl Ward (R-131) has withdrawn as a candidate for re-election to the Maine legislature.
Karl Ward, a Republican representing House District 131 in the state legislature, withdrew his candidacy for the 2018 election, he announced June 26.
Penobscot resident and past state representative Sherman Hutchins will take his place in the November election.
“Like myself, he believes in voting your conscience over his own,” Ward stated in a press release. “[Hutchins] is extremely familiar with the issues facing our region.”
District 131 includes the towns of Otis, Dedham, Orland, Penobscot, Verona Island, Prospect and Stockton Springs.
Ward was first elected to the legislature in 2014, and is finishing his second two-year term. He has served on the Joint Standing Committees on Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development and Taxation, and is President and CEO of Brewer- based construction company Nickerson & O’Day.
He cited the time required to run his business while being away six months a year, noting it has tripled in size in the last five years.
“I am exhausted,” he said. “Doing this, I have neglected personal relationships and health and missed countless family events. For the first time, I’ve had to admit to myself that I simply can’t do it all.”
Hutchins served in the Maine House for one term over 25 years ago, and ran against Ralph Chapman (G-Brooksville) in 2012 for District 37, before the legislative districts were redrawn in 2014. He served as a Penobscot Selectman for nine years.
Hutchins is also a long-standing town moderator for Penobscot, Orland, Otis, Lucerne and Dedham. “I’m probably as familiar with the workings of those towns if I lived in each one,” he said. “I’ve seen how the people vote on issues in those towns.”
Ward had discussed the possibility of his withdrawal for the past month or two, Hutchins said. “I kept thinking he was going to change his mind. But he just recently got notification from three of his key [Nickerson & O’Day] people that they were retiring. That was enough to tip him over the edge… He feels such a responsibility for the 60 or so families that work for him. He doesn’t want to jeopardize not only the business but those families.”
Ward said he hasn’t ruled out returning to Augusta in the future, and “plans to lend his full support to Hutchins during the campaign and beyond.”
A county Republican caucus will be held next week in order to formally nominate Hutchins as a candidate.
“It’s the kind of thing I enjoy doing,” he said. “I have taken an interest for many years in local government This isn’t as local but its still just an extenuation of the kind of things I’ve been doing for a long, long time.”