Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ campaign announced Thursday that it has submitted more than enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, when she is expected to face former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The Mills campaign said in a news release that it submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office more than 3,700 certified signatures, collected by more than 100 volunteers from all 16 counties. That’s well more than the 2,000 needed to appear on the ballot, and the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that Mills has qualified.

Gov. Janet Mills talks with patrons at Sebago Brewing Co., in Gorham during a tour on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“In the face of unimaginable challenges, Maine people have shown that they are strong, they are kind, and they are resilient. I have never believed more in them than I do today, and it is because of them that I have never been more hopeful about the future of Maine,” Mills said in a written statement.

Mills’ announcement also addressed the growing challenge of record-high energy prices that have intensified inflation pressures on Maine residents.

“In the coming weeks and months, the governor is determined to provide Maine people with relief from inflation by giving back half of the state’s surplus in the form of $750 inflation relief checks, securing free community college for pandemic-impacted students, and tackling the state’s longstanding workforce shortage through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan,” the announcement said.

Mills’ announcement comes days after she formally announced her candidacy in a video, although her campaign had already been aggressively raising money for the race in recent months.


In contrast to Mills’ low-key announcement Thursday, LePage held a campaign rally and gathered dozens of supporters before marching from the Blaine House to the State House with his nomination signatures last month.

Mills’ campaign said the governor spoke Thursday morning at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and planned to visit two small businesses, one of them Sebago Brewing Co. in Gorham, that have received recovery grants from her Maine Jobs & Recovery plan.

Mills and LePage are the only two candidates to file signatures for the gubernatorial ballot. Other candidates have registered to begin raising money, but they don’t appear to be mounting a serious challenge based on fundraising reports filed in January.

Formally qualifying for the ballot sets up what’s expected to be a costly and contentious race for governor. Mills and LePage have a history of conflict stemming from her time serving as attorney general under the Republican governor. The Maine Republican Party announced that it has already booked $3.9 million in advertising reservations.

Democrats nationwide are facing headwinds heading into the midterm elections, which historically have favored the party that does not control the White House.

President Biden has gotten low approval ratings, although he received a boost based on his response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But economic sanctions, especially barring imports of Russian oil, are likely to exacerbate already rising gas and oil prices, accelerating inflation caused by a combination of supply chain issues and stimulus payments.

Inflation has emerged as a major issue in Maine’s gubernatorial race in recent weeks. LePage has called on Mills to cut state income taxes in response to a projected $1.2 billion surplus. But Mills is sticking to a plan, initially proposed by Republicans, to return half of the projected surplus to taxpayers. Mills has proposed sending $750 payments to roughly 800,000 taxpayers.

This week, LePage joined calls to suspend the gas tax. But that proposal is opposed by Mills, as well as the Maine Municipal Association and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, who have argued that it would result in millions of dollars of lost revenues needed to fix roads and bridges, while delivering relatively little relief to Mainers.

Mills, meanwhile, has rolled out a plan to offer $90 rebates for utility bills for about 90,000 low income Mainers.

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