Chandler Woodcock, the Republican who lost to John Baldacci in the 2006 governor’s race, is being mentioned as the leading contender to become commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Gov. Paul LePage’s office would not confirm Tuesday whether Woodcock is the nominee.

But a key senator on the committee that oversees the department said it is his understanding Woodcock will be nominated, and George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, posted on his blog that he expects Woodcock to be named.

LePage’s spokesman Dan Demeritt said the governor’s office can speak positively of Woodcock, but he would not comment beyond that.

Woodcock, reached Tuesday, declined to comment.

However, Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, said everyone who is following the appointment expects Woodcock to be named.

“I feel very confident that Chandler Woodcock is the nominee,” Trahan said.

Trahan, a 12-year member of the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, applauded the prospect of Woodcock leading the natural resource agency.

He said Woodcock is a politician who understands the science involved in managing fish and wildlife populations.

“When I looked at the candidates, I wanted someone who put the resource first, but also understood the political process, and he really does,” Trahan said.

“And his approach is very calm and systematic. I think this is a fresh start with someone I trust and someone who is putting the resource before politics.”

Woodcock, a Farmington resident, was a high school teacher for 26 years and a coach for 19 years before he ran for governor.

Woodcock served three terms in the Maine Senate and two terms on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

On Friday, Smith, former director of the sportsman’s alliance, posted on his blog, www.georgesmithmaine.com, that Woodcock “will be Maine’s next Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.”

Smith could not be reached for comment, but his blog lauded Woodcock as a hunter, an angler and one with a “firmness of purpose.”

Smith’s blog said he considers Woodcock a friend, has fished with him and has written a recommendation letter for him.

“Goals ranging from rebuilding the deer herd to improving the state’s fisheries will now find renewed interest and energy,” Smith wrote.

 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: dfleming@pressherald.com