Correction: Governor Race-Maine story
Jul. 16, 2017
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) —
In a July 11 story about the Maine governor's race, The Associated Press erroneously reported candidate Richard Light's hometown. He lives in Liberty, not Clinton.
A corrected version of the story is below:
LePage takes swing at AG as she announces run for governor
Maine's Republican governor is taking his latest swing at Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills a day after she announced her run to succeed him
By MARINA VILLENEUVE
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills on Tuesday deflected the latest in a series of disparaging remarks by Republican Gov. Paul LePage, one day after announcing her 2018 gubernatorial run.
Mills is one of four Democrats who have filed paperwork to succeed the term-limited LePage. The member of a well-known Maine political family, a former state lawmaker and district attorney as well as the state's first female attorney general , Mills said her battles against pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street and now the Trump administration will help her fight for the people of Maine and push for high-paying jobs across the rural state.
"We can't be dividing ourselves between home-grown Mainers and people from away," she told The Associated Press, adding that she wants to be the state's "biggest cheerleader."
The 2018 race comes at a time when Republicans running on welfare reform and right-sizing government continue to gain prominence. Last year, Maine sent a historic electoral vote for President Donald Trump, and the GOP has maintained control of the governor's office, the state Senate and two out of four Congressional seats.
Mills and the governor have a history of public flare-ups. Currently, LePage is suing Mills over claims that she has abused her power by refusing to represent him in court. During a radio appearance Tuesday, he repeated his opinion that Mills puts politics before her work as an attorney general, and questioned her office's independence.
"This lady is a Democrat before she's an attorney," LePage said. "I've been saying that for as long as she's been up there. If I put anything over there, she says no."
He told Mills "good luck" with her run, but added: "I really do believe that Maine people are much smarter than that, really. Quite frankly, I think that Maine people see through her."
Mills said the people of Maine are sick of infighting and want someone who can bring people together to revitalize the forest economy, strengthen tourism and invest in infrastructure like broadband. She touted her time on the Legislature's appropriations and judiciary committees and her office's work on issues from child support to a $5 million settlement with Volkswagen for Clean Air Act violations.
"And probably 99.9% of what we do as an office has nothing to do with the governor personally," she said.
But she added, "The fact is, I've won every legal battle which he has engaged in with me."
Those include fights over the LePage's administration's efforts to remove 19- and 20-year-olds from MaineCare, the 65 bills that the governor failed to successfully veto in 2015 ,and a $500 fine that Mills sought against LePage for violating public meeting rules.
She said while LePage spoke in a "callous" way against overdose-reversing medication, she used pharmaceutical settlement money to buy Narcan — some of which she said she personally drove to rural Maine police stations. Mills also pointed to her suit against financial ratings company Standard and Poor's following the 2008 economic crisis, and noted she used settlement money to help people in Maine avoid foreclosure.
Mills said her record can appeal to both progressives and independents.
Mills' family's experience in public services goes back generations — her father was a U.S. attorney for Maine under Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and her Republican brother, Peter, is the executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority and married to Maine Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills.
She faces a primary battle with progressive activist and lobbyist Betsy Sweet; lawyer and Iraq war veteran Adam Cote; and retired U.S. Coast Guard commander Patrick Eisenhart. Republican announced candidates in the race include LePage's former health and human services commissioner Republican Mary Mayhew and Deril Stubenrod. Independent state treasurer Terry Hayes has also said she'll run, along with Libertarian candidate Richard Light, of Liberty.