Tom Saviello to help Janet Mills raise funds for gubernatorial bid

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State Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, speaks to reporters about a proposal to expand MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program in February 2016.

Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, said Tuesday that he has not decided who he will endorse for governor in the 2018 election, but for now he’s helping raise campaign cash for Janet Mills, who is running as a Democrat.

Saviello, who has been friends with Mills for more than 20 years, confirmed rumors that he and two local movie theater owners, John Moore and Janet Bjorn, will host a fundraiser for Mills on Friday.

“She’s our local candidate and she’s my friend,” said Saviello. “I haven’t endorsed her but at this stage of the race I want to show my support.”

Mills, who lives in Farmington, is a long-time prosecutor and lawmaker who currently serves as Maine’s attorney general. She is one of eight Democrats who have filed to run in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

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Saviello, a retired paper company manager who has switched his party affiliation from Democrat to independent to Republican during his 15-year legislative career, is known as one of the Senate’s more moderate Republicans but said he will made a decision about who to officially endorse at a later date.

Saviello has frequently butted heads with the Senate’s more conservative Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage. In 2016, he sponsored a bill to expand Maine’s Medicaid program, which won majority support in the Republican-controlled Senate but not enough to override a gubernatorial veto.

Saviello said he has also offered his support — but not his endorsement, necessarily — to independent gubernatorial candidate Terry Hayes, who is Maine’s treasurer, if she hold events in his area. To date, he has not made a similar offer to Republican candidates Mary Mayhew or Ken Fredette.

“Nobody I see on the Republican right now floats my boat,” said Saviello.

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