LEWISTON — With a week to go before the primary, Sen. Nate Libby on Monday endorsed Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Adam Cote.

Libby, the Democratic whip in the Senate, said Cote is “exactly the kind of leader Maine needs: pragmatic and progressive; fiscally smart and willing to invest in policies that help Maine families lead healthy, productive, and prosperous lives.”

Cote is one of seven contenders vying for his party’s backing in the June 12 primary. The winner will take on the victor in the GOP primary next week and independents Terry Hayes and Alan Caron.

Cote, a lawyer, said he is grateful for Libby’s backing.

“I love the city of Lewiston, have spent a lot of time there, and know how much respect people there have for him,” Cote said. “Sen. Libby is always fighting hard for jobs and opportunity for all Mainers, especially how we help young Mainers afford their education and be able to stay here in Maine.”

Libby, who is seeking a third term in the Senate this year, said all of the Democrats running for governor are “very good people with good ideas, but the decision voters must make in next Tuesday’s election is this: who is the very best candidate in our party who can appeal to farmers in Aroostook, fishermen Downeast, businesswomen in the cities; and working families, veterans and seniors all over Maine?”

He said Cote “has the right ideas, the right temperament, and the right background and broad leadership experience, and that’s why he’s the right choice for Maine.”

Democrats are eager to win the state’s top job after two terms battling with Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who could not seek reelection because of term limits.

In addition to Cote, the Democrats competing in the gubernatorial primary are Attorney General Janet Mills, lobbyist Betsy Sweet, Sen. Mark Dion, former House Speaker Mark Eves, former Rep. Diane Russell and former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion.

Libby said, “Maine needs a governor who is ready to tackle the big-picture challenges our state faces.”

“Our workforce shortage is the first thing mentioned by nearly every single employer I talk with,” he said. “Maine needs to think in big and bold ways to attract and retain young families to our state.”

Libby said the state “needs someone who will work collaboratively with people of all political leanings, but who will be a champion for policies that help Maine families earn better incomes, gain higher education credentials without drowning themselves in debt, and access affordable health insurance.”

“Most of all,” Libby said, “we need a leader that will help make Maine an attractive place for young people to stay and raise their families.”

Cote said: “These are all issues I care about deeply and have put at the heart of this campaign. We need to win this election and focus on building Maine’s future. That is what the last week of this critical election should be about.”

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Adam Cote (File photo)