Dems choose familiar faces for secretary of state, attorney general

Posted Dec. 04, 2012, at 5:51 p.m.
Last modified July 10, 2013, at 5 p.m.
Matthew Dunlap
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Matthew Dunlap Buy Photo
William Schneider
AP photo
William Schneider
Maine State Treasurer and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Poliquin
Maine State Treasurer and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Poliquin
Janet Mills   BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS
BDN
Janet Mills BANGOR DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS

AUGUSTA, Maine — Legislative Democrats on Tuesday turned to their former secretary of state and attorney general to take over the jobs they left behind two years ago when Republicans took control of the House and Senate.

Back in the majority this year, Democrats nominated Matt Dunlap of Old Town to return to his old job as secretary of state, which he held from 2004 to 2010. And they turned to Janet Mills of Farmington to serve again as attorney general, a job she held from 2008 to 2010.

For state treasurer, Democrats chose State Auditor Neria Douglass of Auburn as their nominee.

The full Legislature will vote formally Wednesday to fill the state’s three constitutional officer jobs. With Democrats holding majorities in both the House and Senate, their nominees are likely to get the nod to serve.

Republicans on Tuesday also selected three of their own to challenge the Democratic nominees. They nominated Bruce Poliquin to serve another term as state treasurer and William Schneider to serve another term as attorney general. For secretary of state, they nominated Debra Plowman of Hampden, who is wrapping up a term as assistant Senate Republican leader.

Republicans in the Senate also nominated Sen. Garrett Mason of Lisbon for Senate president. He will challenge Sen. Justin Alfond of Portland, the Democrats’ pick for the job. They acknowledged the chances are slim that Mason will win the job.

“This nomination is somewhat symbolic, but it does demonstrate that we, as Republicans, intend to stand by our principles of limited government,” Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, the incoming assistant Senate Republican leader, said in a statement. “That said, we look forward to working with Senate President Justin Alfond during what promises to be a challenging legislative session.”

Dunlap, a former state legislator who ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate earlier this year, beat out Rep. Brian Bolduc of Auburn for the secretary of state’s nomination. Bolduc, who spoke about the need for a new facility to house state archives, was re-elected to the House last month to serve a third consecutive term.

“It’s joyful work,” Dunlap said. “I stand ready to do it with my whole heart and for the people of Maine.”

Douglass is finishing her second four-year term as state auditor. She beat out Jeremy Fischer, a former state representative from Presque Isle who now lives in Portland and works for the law firm Bernstein Shur.

Douglass also served six years in the state Senate and is a former member of the Auburn City Council and a former chairman of the Auburn School Committee. As state auditor, she said, she worked to save taxpayer money by ordering staff to “keep an eye on accounts that were not in use.”

In the treasurer’s job, Douglass promised to try to persuade Gov. Paul LePage to issue bonds that have been authorized by lawmakers and voters. LePage, in a decision that has frustrated Democrats, has said he doesn’t plan to issue voter-approved bonds until 2014 and state spending is “under control.”

The treasurer formally sells state bonds at market, but both the governor and treasurer need to sign off on a bond issue before it can be sold.

For the attorney general nomination, Mills beat Timothy Shannon, a lawyer with the Portland firm Verrill Dana. Mills, who was the state’s first female attorney general and New England’s first female district attorney, is an attorney with the law firm Preti Flaherty. She also served four terms in the Maine House, from 2002 to 2010.

The three constitutional officers serve two-year terms and are sworn into office 30 days after the new Legislature is sworn in.

Democrats on Tuesday also made a selection for state auditor, who will serve a four-year term. Democrats chose Pola Buckley of Hallowell, who works as a principal auditor in the state Department of Audit. She won out over Gail Chase of Unity, a former state auditor and legislator.

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