AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov.-elect Paul LePage on Friday laid the groundwork for setting up his new Republican administration as he named the three co-chairs of his transition team, vowing to make it account publicly for every dollar it raises and spends in doing its work.
They include Tarren Bragdon, chief operating officer of the conservative free-market think tank Maine Heritage Policy Center; Ann Robinson, an Augusta attorney and self-described moderate who's also counsel for the Maine Republican Party, and John Butera, executive director of the Central Maine Growth Council, a nonprofit economic-development group. Butera worked in former independent Gov. Angus King's administration in the Department of Economic and Community Development.
LePage said the transition team will look for "the best and the brightest" as it seeks people to fill key roles in what's expected to be a pro-business administration. He said he hopes to name most of his Cabinet appointees by Christmas.
"The LePage administration will have the most transparent transition process in Maine history," the governor-elect said during a State House news conference, adding that "we will publicly disclose all contributions and expenditures associated with our transition."
LePage also announced that a new website, www.lepagetransition.com, was launched Friday to disclose information about the process between now and his inauguration in early January. He said people interested in applying for positions in his administration are encouraged submit resumes and letters of interest through the website.
"We are looking for people who can help Maine move ahead," LePage said. Asked whether people from different political perspectives and parties will be considered, he said, "I assure you there will be people on the other side in the transition."
LePage's newly appointed chief of staff, John McGough, who was the campaign deputy chief of staff, will be actively involved in transition work. McGough is also the former chief of staff in the Maine House Republican Office, and he served as human resources director for South Portland.
Democrats, now reduced to minority status, promised their cooperation with Republicans while not abandoning core party values, said Rep. Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, who wants to lead the House Democratic caucus.
"We are interested in working with the other side of the aisle," said Berry. "We have always had a cordial relationship in the past, though we didn't always agree on policy."
Another Democrat who aspires to floor leadership, Rep. Emily Cain of Orono, questioned the appointment of Bragdon, saying he "has spent the last few years pushing a right-wing agenda and his appointment is inconsistent with the governor elect's stated interest in 'people before politics.'"
Cain added that "Democrats will watching with great interest as future appointments are determined."
Maine's first GOP governor to be elected since 1990 was swept into office as part of the Republican tide that also gave the state its first GOP-majority House and Senate since the 1973-74 session. Those majorities will enable the Legislature to elect a state treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general for the first time in decades.
LePage on Friday endorsed his former gubernatorial primary rival, Bruce Poliquin, for state treasurer, saying his background in finance and economics qualify him well for the post. Charles Summers, a former state senator who was also unsuccessful 1st District U.S. House candidate two years ago, is a candidate for secretary of state.
William Schneider, a former state representative and now assistant U.S. attorney, and outgoing state Sen. Douglas Smith of Dover-Foxcroft are interested in the attorney general's office.
The GOP sweep also gave the state a new No. 2 official in state government on Friday as Republican senators elected Kevin Raye of Perry as the chamber's president for the next two years. Raye, the former Senate minority leader, was elected on a single ballot after Sen. Richard Rosen of Bucksport withdrew from the race and threw his support to Raye.
Sen. Jonathan Courtney of Springvale, the former assistant Senate minority leader, ascends to majority leader, and the assistant's post goes to Sen. Debra Plowman of Hampden.
LePage, the Waterville mayor and general manager of Marden's surplus and salvage store chain, is phasing out of both of those roles and will be finished by Christmas time, McGough said.