Michael Lawler has become the fourth candidate and second Republican to enter the race for Maine House District 99. (J.W. OLIVER PHOTO)
Both major parties will see competitive primaries in Maine House District 99, as a second Republican has entered the race.
Michael Lawler, of Brunswick, a former Air Force pilot and Apple engineer who has run for the House twice before, will face Stephen “Bubba” Davis, of Cundy’s Harbor, a fisherman and former Bath Iron Works engineer, in the Republican primary.
The Democratic candidates are Cheryl Golek, of Harpswell Neck, and Sheila Menair, of Great Island. The primary election will take place June 14. The winners will advance to the general election on Nov. 8.
All four candidates hope to replace term-limited Rep. Jay McCreight, a Democrat who lives on Great Island. McCreight represents House District 51: Harpswell, West Bath and northeast Brunswick.
As of the November election, Harpswell will be part of District 99, without West Bath but with a bigger slice of Brunswick. Maine redraws its legislative districts once a decade.
Lawler said he thinks it’s “very likely” that 2022 will see Republicans retake the Blaine House and both chambers of the Legislature.
“We have a transparency problem. We have an accountability problem. We have a listening problem,” Lawler said of why he has run before and why he is running this year.
He supports former Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign to unseat Gov. Janet Mills because he believes Mills’ policies harm small businesses. “I’m a LePage fan,” he said. He makes a monthly donation to LePage’s campaign. “He was good for Maine. He’ll be good for Maine again,” he said.
Lawler would like to see Maine follow other states in restricting access to abortion. Reuters reported March 10 that, not yet 10 weeks into the year, 40 states had introduced more than 500 anti-abortion measures.
“If the child in the womb is viable and aborted, that’s murder,” Lawler said. “That’s my belief.”
Lawler opposes ranked-choice voting. Voters adopted the method in a 2016 referendum, but Lawler called it “a cockamamie scheme.”
“The voters don’t understand it and even many of the candidates don’t understand it,” he said.
Lawler ran for House District 50 in 2018 and 2020, losing to incumbent Rep. Ralph Tucker. He collected 24.23% and 26.38% of the vote, respectively. He said he knew that District 50 leaned Democratic and he would have “an uphill battle.”
“But I couldn’t bring myself to not run, because nature abhors a vacuum and to just not have any competition makes it even worse — makes you responsible,” he said.
When Lawler learned that reapportionment had put him in the new District 99 with Harpswell, he decided to run again because he thinks Brunswick residents should have a Brunswick representative. “Brunswick is a lot different from Harpswell,” he said.
“I’m thrifty. I’ll listen. I’ll explain. I’ll apologize,” Lawler said of why Republican voters should support him. “I’m a Ronald Reagan conservative through and through.”
Lawler is a native of Omaha, Nebraska. His father was an attorney and his mother was a statistician with Mutual of Omaha. He attended Catholic schools and graduated from Creighton University before joining the U.S. Air Force in 1962.
He flew for 14 years, served in Thailand during the Vietnam War and spent four years at the Air Force Personnel Center in Texas. He earned a master’s degree in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before retiring at the rank of major.
He worked in the technology sector in Texas and Florida before landing with Apple in California. He was an Apple employee for 12 years before founding an Apple-related consultancy, Macintosh Problem Solver, that he operated for 25 years.
He and his wife moved from Connecticut to their home near Woodward Point, Brunswick, in 2000.
Lawler has a background in community service as the co-founder of an ambulance service and a volunteer emergency medical technician in Texas; a board member with sewer districts in Texas and Maine; and a volunteer economics educator in Connecticut.
His interests include amateur radio and rifle clubs. He is a director of the Western District of the Pine Tree Rifle and Pistol Association, among other affiliations.
He is a founding member of the Maine Amateur Radio Foundation and a member of four regional amateur radio organizations. He provides support to emergency agencies as a volunteer radio operator.
Lawler enjoys golf and puns — during the pandemic, he compiled a 73-page collection titled “The Pun Master.” A father of two and grandfather of two, he lives with his wife of 30 years, Mary Anne.