Governor Paul LePage delivers his final State of the State address before a joint session of the Maine Legislature in Augusta in this Feb. 13, 2018, file photo.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage issued letters to Attorney General Janet Mills and State Treasurer Terry Hayes on Tuesday, asking them to “do the honorable thing” and either resign or take leaves of absence before continuing their 2018 runs to replace him.

The move from the Republican governor was no surprise, after LePage told supporters at a private event last month that he’d ask Mills, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee who has been in her office for all but two years of his tenure as a chief adversary, to step down.

The letters to Mills and Hayes, an independent, were similar, but LePage had choice words for the Democrat, saying it “appears you are using your office as a campaign headquarters” and that she shouldn’t campaign “while also pretending to serve as a full-time attorney general.”

“Your personal political ambitions should not come at the expense of the Maine people,” he wrote to both candidates.

LePage kept his office while running for re-election in 2014. This year, he supports Republican gubernatorial nominee Shawn Moody, whose campaign is being run by Brent Littlefield, the governor’s chief strategist. Moody’s spokeswoman is Lauren LePage, the governor’s daughter.

The governor also didn’t weigh in similarly during the 2012 U.S. Senate race, when three constitutional officers — then-Secretary of State Charlie Summers, then-State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and then-Attorney General Bill Schneider — ran against each other in the Republican primary. Summers won the primary and lost the general election to U.S. Sen. Angus King.

In a statement, Mills spokesman Scott Ogden said “of course” LePage wants her out of office because she has “successfully stood up to him and for the interests of Maine people.”

Hayes called it an example of “political grandstanding” from LePage and said she has “never underperformed in my current job in order to earn the next one, and I’m not going to start now.” Alan Caron, a consultant and the other independent in the race, said on Facebook that Mills and Hayes “can well-manage their jobs and be candidates at the same time.”

Moody’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a message on Tuesday.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...