AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer would be barred for running for publicly elected statewide offices while they hold those jobs if a bill that enjoyed a warm reception Monday in the Legislature’s state and local government committee becomes law.
Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, said he sponsored his bill, An Act to Ensure the Effectiveness of Constitutional Officers, to avoid a situation like the one that played out last year: Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, Attorney General William Schneider and Secretary of State Charlie Summers all running for the U.S. Senate.
“At that time, questions were raised whether the secretary of state should be on the ballot in an election his office oversees,” said Johnson. “And there were further questions raised whether a constitutional officer holding a presumably full-time job could adequately fulfill that duty while campaigning for statewide office.”
Maine’s three constitutional officers are elected at the beginning of every legislative session by the members of the House and Senate.
“I frankly don’t see how a secretary of state can properly execute the duties of their office and be on the ballot,” said Johnson.
Rep. David Cotta, R-China, said he supports the concept in general but questioned whether the rules should be different in primary elections.
“I would expect you to look at this and make changes,” said Cotta. “A reasonable compromise might be found by drawing a line between a primary and a general election.”
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a work session.