Dale Crafts (center) delivers his opening statement against Adrienne Bennett (from left) and Eric Brakey during the start of a GOP debate Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 at Lewiston Middle School in Lewiston. Credit: Andree Kehn / Sun Journal via AP

Voters are faced with an important choice on July 14 — nominating a Republican with the necessary life and professional experience to defeat U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. I have endorsed Dale Crafts for Congress, and there are very specific reasons why he is the best candidate when compared to his opponents.

As a business owner, Crafts has experience in balancing budgets, hiring employees and making the tough decisions. He has negotiation skills, the ability to listen and the work ethic to get any job accomplished. These are essential skills needed in order to be more than just a rubber stamp in Washington.

President Donald Trump needs allies like Crafts in Congress who understand the big picture and have the skills required to restore our economy. Now is not the time for inexperience and wishful thinking.

As a father of six and grandfather of 14, Crafts understands the turmoil and struggle that comes with the blessing of having children. His life experience has provided him the wisdom that will encourage sound judgment when representing Maine.

Crafts has critical legislative and policy making experience. As the only Republican candidate that has served at the state and local level of government, Crafts has a unique understanding of how laws impact every level of government. Crafts is a man of principles and convictions. He will not sell out to special interests or take a stance just because it’s popular. He will not crack under pressure. I can depend and count on Crafts, on his values and principles. He doesn’t just talk; he acts.

Eric Brakey claims he was able to introduce and usher through constitutional carry and welfare reform. Although he did get constitutional carry passed, it was a long process that took many years and work from legislators, such as Rick Cebra and Crafts, before Brakey was a Maine resident. When it comes to welfare reform, my administration ran on and worked diligently to pass meaningful reform, predating Brakey. It’s disappointing to see him claim the work of many, which is questionable.

While we all support President Trump, Brakey must stop hiding from the fact that he was not always a supporter of the president. He is on record stating he has had “ misgivings” about the president. For me, it is not about who cheers the loudest for the president or who gets a photo; it is about who has the life and professional experience required to win in November.

Adrienne Bennett is a dear friend of mine; however, there are several reasons why I did not endorse her. She does not have the necessary policy or leadership experience to solve the problems we face. These times require leaders who have the history of being at the table and making the tough decisions. I do not believe Bennett has that experience or the temperament to be effective for the Maine people.

If we want to win this seat back in November, the choice is simple. As a lifelong conservative, family man and business owner, Crafts is the only person in this race I can count on to defeat Golden and stand up for us in Washington. I urge you to support Crafts with me on July 14.

Paul R. LePage is the former governor of Maine.