Patrick Whittle
Patrick Whittle is based in Maine and covers environment.
pxwhittlepwhittle@ap.org

Maine’s Democratic governor, Janet Mills, to seek 2nd term

March 8, 2022 GMT
Maine Gov. Janet Mills greets the Legislature before delivering her State of the State Address from the Maine State House on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Maine Gov. Janet Mills greets the Legislature before delivering her State of the State Address from the Maine State House on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Maine Gov. Janet Mills greets the Legislature before delivering her State of the State Address from the Maine State House on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Maine Gov. Janet Mills greets the Legislature before delivering her State of the State Address from the Maine State House on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Maine Gov. Janet Mills greets the Legislature before delivering her State of the State Address from the Maine State House on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via AP)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Democratic governor announced Tuesday she will seek a second term in office, setting up a potential contest against a longtime political rival in an election likely to generate national attention and heavy spending.

The leading candidate opposing Gov. Janet Mills is former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who often sparred with Mills when she served as the attorney general. Mills became the first female governor in Maine history after she was elected in 2018.

That was also the final year of LePage’s second term, but he decided last year that he would seek a return to office. The Maine Constitution limits a governor to two consecutive terms, but they can run again after sitting out a term.

On Tuesday, Mills touted her stewardship of the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, her work to expand health care and her history of balanced state budgets.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We have accomplished so much, but I’m running for reelection because there’s so much left to do. It’s time to invest in you, the people of Maine. You are what moves us forward, what makes us strong,” Mills said in a prepared announcement.

The race will be on the national radar in a year in which Democratic governors and lawmakers face tough reelection battles throughout the country. Mills has served as the state’s governor for the entirety of the pandemic and has led the state in a time when Democrats control both houses of the Maine Legislature.

LePage announced his plan to seek reelection in September. The former governor is running on his accomplishments such as lowering the state’s unemployment rate, improving Maine’s fiscal standing and pushing for tax cuts, said Brent Littlefield, a spokesperson for LePage.

“Governor LePage dramatically lowered Maine’s unemployment rate, made us competitive with New Hampshire and our neighbors, put the state’s fiscal house in order, and sustainably increased funding for K-12 education,” Littlefield said in a statement.

The announcement from Mills that she is seeking reelection was not a surprise to Maine’s political class. She has been raising money for months in anticipation of a race for a second term. As of January, she had raised more than $1.6 million, while LePage had raised a little less than $900,000.