AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage withdrew his request to withdraw the re-nominations of five judges on Monday but, once again, provided no immediate explanation for the change of course.

On Friday, LePage sent letters to legislative leaders notifying them that he was withdrawing the nominations of three Superior Court and two District Court judges. Legislative leaders received the messages on Sunday – days after the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee had endorsed the reappointments and one day before a special legislative session – and were both surprised and puzzled by the action.

On Monday, LePage sent five more letters to Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, and other legislative leaders informing them that “I have rescinded my withdrawal of the nomination” of the five judges. The individuals up for reappointment to the bench are: District Court Judge Bruce Jordan, District Court Judge Susan Oram, Superior Court Judge Ann Murray, Superior Court Judge MaryGay Kennedy and Superior Court Judge Robert Murray.

Under Maine law, District Court judges and Superior Court justices are appointed for seven-year terms and may serve an additional six months after their terms expire. The governor may withdraw judicial appointments anytime before confirmation.

All five judges were nominated in 2010 by former Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat.

LePage spokesman Peter Steele declined to comment on the nominations earlier Monday morning.

The incident added another bizarre political wrinkle to a special legislative session already stacked with controversial issues. Lawmakers are expected to vote on whether the state should proceed with allowing retail sales of recreational marijuana – or whether to extend a moratorium on sales until 2019, as LePage has proposed – as well as what to do about a ranked choice voting process that was approved by voters last year but that may violate Maine’s Constitution.

Lawmakers are also slated to vote on whether to change a so-called “food sovereignty” law that LePage said could cause Maine to lose its ability to inspect meat and poultry slaughterhouses on Nov. 1.

This story will be updated.

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