AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s majority Republicans on Tuesday chose their slate of candidates for state attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, setting the stage for a formal election after the new Legislature is sworn in.
In a party caucus, Republicans nominated William Schneider, a former legislator and now assistant U.S. attorney, as attorney general. Schneider defeated outgoing state Sen. Douglas Smith of Dover-Foxcroft for the job.
Bruce Poliquin, a 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate who has headed a Wall Street investment management firm, won his party’s nomination for treasurer, defeating former Rep. David Bowles of Sanford. That contest drew attention after Gov.-elect Paul LePage endorsed Poliquin for the spot.
Charles Summers Jr., who has run three times unsuccessfully for Maine’s 1st District congressional seat and also served two state Senate terms, was the lone party choice for secretary of state.
The constitutional offices carry two-year terms.
Because they hold majorities in both the House and Senate, the Republicans’ slate for the three high-profile offices is virtually assured of winning final election on Wednesday. If there were any Republicans thinking of straying and voting for the Democratic candidates, House Speaker nominee Robert Nutting sought to keep them in line.
“Reaching across the aisle starts Thursday after we get our team in place,” said Nutting, R-Oakland. “It does not start tomorrow.”
In their caucus, Democrats, who are in the House and Senate minority for the first time in more than three decades, nominated two of the three incumbents: Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Attorney General Janet Mills. Treasurer David Lemoine had declined to be nominated.
Schneider, a West Point graduate, former Green Beret and Army Ranger who later graduated from the University of Maine School of Law, is a former three-term Maine House member who also served a term as assistant leader. Schneider, who uses a wheelchair as a result of a service-related accident, concentrated on drug-related cases while serving as an assistant attorney general for six years. He has worked in the area of anti-terrorism as an assistant federal prosecutor.
“Every time my state has called, I’ve answered. Every time my country has called, I’ve answered,” Schneider told the caucus before its vote.
As a House member, he was nominated twice for attorney general by what was then a GOP minority.
Schneider told the caucus that he’d work with GOP Gov.-elect Paul LePage and the Legislature in an effort to have Maine join other states that have filed legal challenges to the new federal health care legislation. Schneider said he opposes the law.
Poliquin comes to the job of managing the state’s cash and debt with an economics degree from Harvard and 17 years on Wall Street where he headed a firm managing more than $5 billion in investments. He described himself as “a loyal hardworking Republican but also a fiscal conservative.”
Poliquin, one of six Republicans defeated by LePage in the June gubernatorial primary, said he’s well-qualified to help lead the state out of a “precarious fiscal position” from unfunded pension liabilities and health care debts.
Summers, a Naval reserve officer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, served two terms as a state senator and ran for the U.S. House in 1994, 2004 and 2008. He has served as New England regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
As secretary of state, he’d oversee motor vehicle registration and licensing, elections, corporation registration and the state archive.