BOSTON (AP) – Maine Gov. John Baldacci, New England’s only Democratic chief executive, told delegates at the party’s national convention Tuesday evening that his state has made strides in health care and education with little help from Washington.

“Maine, like many states, is financially strapped,” said Baldacci, a former four-term congressman. “It’s obvious that we need a new partner, a new administration in Washington that puts people first.”

Sandwiched between Akron, Ohio, Mayor Donald Plusquellic and New Mexico Lt. Gov. Diane Denish in the lengthy schedule of speakers, Baldacci’s said Maine “has not wasted a moment in meeting the challenges we’ve faced.”

Baldacci said Maine has created the Dirigo health care program, which is designed to provide access to health insurance for the thousands who lack it.

Maine has also replaced its technical college network with a community college system, which Baldacci said has opened college doors to more students, and created Pine Tree opportunity zones, which stimulate economic growth and jobs in targeted areas.

“But we accomplished that largely without assistance from the federal government,” the governor said.

Baldacci, Maine chairman of the John Kerry-John Edwards campaign in Maine, joined other speakers in calling for the Massachusetts senator’s election to the presidency in November.

Earlier Tuesday, Baldacci met with Maine’s delegates for Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and asked them to unite behind Kerry, said Baldacci spokesman Lee Umphrey.

He told the Kucinich delegates to “keep your voice,” but said this is a time for Democrats to speak with a single voice.

Eleven of Maine’s 35 delegates were pledged to Kerry, seven to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and six to Kucinich, who campaigned actively in Maine. The rest went to Boston unpledged, but are expected to unite behind Kerry.

Dean released his Maine delegates when he met with them Monday and asked them to support Kerry, said Roxanne Munksgaard, one of the Dean supporters.

“I will be voting for Kerry,” said Munksgaard, adding she did not feel it would help the party to withhold a vote for Kerry.


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