December 15, 2019
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LePage picks Brewer native Douglas Farnham as defense chief

Office of Gov. Paul LePage | BDN
Office of Gov. Paul LePage | BDN
Colonel Douglas A. Farnham

AUGUSTA, Maine — A week after his first choice removed himself from consideration, Gov. Paul LePage has nominated a Brewer native to lead the Maine National Guard.

LePage announced Tuesday that he has nominated Col. Douglas A. Farnham as the Guard’s adjutant general and commissioner of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.

For the past three years, Farnham has been wing commander of the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor. In addition to Brewer High School, Farnham is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Chapman University. He has 31 years of military service and is co-owner of Getchell Bros. Inc., a well-known ice-packaging business.

Farnham said in a written statement that the next adjutant general faces historic challenges.

“Shrinking national resources are putting intense pressure on future Department of Defense budgets,” he said. “As we’ve seen, the entire relationship between the active-duty force structure and the reserve components is and will continue to be under debate.”

Last week, LePage nominated Brig. Gen. Gerard F. Bolduc, who is the acting adjutant general, to the permanent post, but Bolduc declined the nomination a day later. Bolduc has been in the position since March, when LePage fired adjutant general Brig. Gen. James Campbell and accused him of mischaracterizing a plan to turn Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion into an infantry unit. Campbell denied that charge.

Farnham’s 31-year career, which began as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, has included years as a pilot and flight instructor, including active duty as a refueling pilot in Operation Noble Eagle in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Farnham is married to former Sen. Nichi S. Farnham, who represented Bangor and Hermon in the Maine Senate from 2010 to 2012 after serving for 13 years as a Bangor city councilor. Nichi Farnham, who has served on the Maine State Board of Education since 2013, when she was nominated to that post by LePage, lost her Senate seat in 2012 to Democrat Geoffrey Gratwick.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said in a written statement that he has known Douglas Farnham personally and professionally for years. Fredette is senior staff judge advocate officer for the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor and as such serves under Farnham.

“I know he will be a terrific leader for Maine’s soldiers and airmen,” said Fredette.

Nelson Durgin, a Bangor city councilor and former Maine adjutant general under Gov. John McKernan, said he thought the nomination was a wise one.

“One of the strengths he brings is a great connection to the state of Maine,” Durgin said.

Durgin, who said he has known Farnham throughout his military career, said Farnham’s close ties to his community and strong knowledge of the Guard in Maine make him a strong candidate for the job.

Farnham’s nomination is subject to vetting by the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and confirmation by the Maine Senate. If confirmed, he would lead the Maine Army and Air National Guards.

Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, said he has met Farnham only in passing and that he “seemed very intelligent, very respectful and very much on the ball.”

“He seems like a good choice,” said Cyrway.

Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, who also co-chairs the committee, said Farnham is widely respected and represents a good choice by LePage.

“From my limited interactions with him and everything I’ve heard, Doug is a great guy,” said Luchini. “I really like working with Gerry Bolduc, too. He really stepped up to filling that spot over the last few months, and we appreciate it.”

Bangor Daily News writers Michael Shepherd and Nick McCrea contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this report stated that Nichi Farnham has served on the Maine State Board of Education since 2012. She started on the board in 2013.

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