Veteran legislator from a politically prominent family


AUGUSTA – Peter Mills comes from a family with a long history of involvement in Maine state government. A state senator from Cornville, Mills now wants to go where none of his kin has ventured before: to the governor’s office.

Highly regarded in the State House for his depth of knowledge on complex tax and budget issues, the Harvard-educated lawyer brings 12 years of legislative experience to the race against two rivals for the Republican nomination.

Born in Farmington in June 1943, Sumner Peter Mills III attended high school in Gorham and won a scholarship to Harvard. After graduation, he served in the Navy for five years during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for intelligence operations against the Soviets.

He went on to graduate second in his class from the University of Maine law school in 1973. Since then, Mills has run a family law practice, now based in Skowhegan.

He soon found his way to Augusta, a trail known well to family members before him. Mills’ grandfather, Sumner Peter Mills of Stonington, served in the state House and Senate in the early 1900s, and his son, S. Peter Mills Jr., served five legislative terms between 1939 and 70. He also served as U.S. attorney.

The tradition carries through to this day.

One of candidate Mills’ sisters, Dora Anne, is state health director and another, Janet, is a House member and former district attorney. Peter Mills’ wife, Nancy, is a Superior Court justice. The couple have three daughters and two grandchildren.

In his announcement last August that he would run for governor, Mills declared Maine to be in trouble and announced a 12-step program to make the government more accountable. In an early test of his campaign organization, he qualified for public campaign financing through the Clean Election Act.

Asked how to best summarize his message, Mills said, “I would want people to know that I have a well-defined plan for addressing the state’s problems, that I have a track record for having solved a number of the state’s difficulties.”

“I have a lifetime of military, legal and business experience that best qualifies me for this important leadership role,” Mills added.

Mills is known for his intense style and profound understanding of the inner workings of state government. But some question whether he can adequately convey his ideas, often presented at length, into language the everyday voter can understand.

Mills is seen as moderate, even liberal, on social issues, while more conservative on fiscal matters.

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AP-ES-05-22-06 1320EDT