The next election for governor in Maine is nearly two years away, but the race is already taking shape as contenders and their supporters begin winding up their campaigns.
No one has formally declared their candidacy yet, but speculation of both Democrat Governor Janet Mills and former Republican Governor Paul LePage have been circulating.
Governor Mills has a committee in place to accept campaign donations, and she collected an early endorsement Thursday from EMILY’s List, the well-funded progressive political action committee that backs female candidates for high office. The PAC’s contribution could fuel important early contributions in the gubernatorial race.
The endorsement, 21 months ahead of the election, is also a clear signal that the Democratic incumbent is unlikely to face any major challengers from within her party.
LePage has said publicly several times he plans to challenge Mills in 2022. Since Governor Mills election in 2018, Lepage has steadily lobbed public criticism toward her administration, especially her handling of state finances and the pandemic.
His most recent target was Governor Mills’ supplemental state budget proposal, which treated forgivable loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, created to help businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, as taxable state income.
Many Maine businesses want conformity with the federal tax code, which doesn’t count the loans as income, but the Governor’s administration said matching the federal policy would cost the state $100 million in tax revenue. After a public hearing on the proposal, where business advocates and accountants expressed their concerns, Governor Mills directed her administration to find a way to cover the $100 million shortfall.
Under the Maine Constitution, the ranked-choice system of counting ballots can’t be applied to state offices in a general election, so the winner in the election for Maine governor will be the candidate who gets a plurality of votes.