AUGUSTA — In an oddity of Maine government, one of the first acts for newly elected lawmakers Wednesday will be to elect the state’s constitutional officers, including the attorney general, the secretary of state and the treasurer.
The incoming Senate Republican majority made it clear Tuesday that they wanted changes: they nominated candidates for the three spots now held by those selected by Democrats in 2012.
Republicans picked Terry Hayes, an outgoing state representative from Buckfield, to challenge Democratic state Treasurer Neria Douglass, an Auburn Democrat.
Hayes is a former Democrat who most recently worked on the campaign of independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler. She left the Democratic Party earlier this year.
Republicans noted Hayes’ long history of working “across the aisles.” Hayes has sided with Republicans on a handful of issues in recent years.
In the race for the Attorney General’s Office, Republicans picked Bill Logan, an attorney with the firm of Irwin, Tardy & Morris. The firm has offices in Portland, Brunswick, Augusta and Newport. Logan has expertise in family law, real estate and litigation, according to a profile on the law firm’s website.
Logan offers Republicans an alternative to Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat who has clashed with Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage has made known his dislike of Mills. She is serving her second term.
“Bill Logan is an accomplished attorney who has distinguished himself among his colleagues and within Maine’s entire legal community,” incoming Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said in a prepared statement. “I am very excited about the prospect of him being Maine’s next attorney general.”
Senate Republicans also nominated former lawmaker Jonathan Courtney to be their candidate for secretary of state, now held by Matthew Dunlap, an Orono Democrat. Dunlap is serving his fourth term.
Courtney, a Republican from Springvale, served four terms in the state Senate and made a run for Maine’s 1st Congressional District as the Republican nominee against incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree in 2012. He was also the Senate majority leader in 2011 and 2012 before leaving the Senate because of term limits. Prior to that, he served a single term in the Maine House of Representatives.
Courtney has most recently worked as a State House lobbyist and political adviser.
Incoming state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, praised Courtney’s record.
“Jon is a great public servant who had an impressive career here in the Maine Legislature,” Mason said. “The skill set he would bring to the Secretary of State’s Office is one we would all be proud of.”
Maine is the only state in which the Legislature selects the state’s constitutional officers every two years. Most other states, about two-thirds of them, turn to general election voters to make the selection every four years. A handful of states allow the governor to appoint constitutional officers.
LePage has said he wants Maine to change to a popular-vote system.
Outgoing Senate president and incoming minority leader, Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said Democrats, who have the majority in the House and enough votes in the Senate to re-elect their candidates, remain confident the incumbents will prevail Wednesday.
“We believe they’ve done a great job for the state of Maine,” Alfond said. “The Republican caucus has the opportunity and the path to offer their nominees and that’s within their right. They will put their candidates up against ours and we look forward to hearing from both sides.”
The entire Legislature will convene Wednesday to be officially sworn in and to vote on the constitutional officers.