March 13, 2010

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SUSAN M

— By . COVER

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday nominated Janet Mills of Farmington to be Maine's next attorney general.

If her nomination is confirmed by the full Legislature today, Mills would be the first woman in Maine history to hold the position, becoming the 55th attorney general of Maine.

Mills, 60, defeated fellow Democrats John Brautigam of Falmouth and Sean Faircloth of Bangor for the job. Because she was re-elected to the House in November, there will be a special election to fill her seat representing Farmington and Industry.

Supporters described Mills as tough, smart, experienced and the ''epitome of the multitasker.''

It is unlikely that Republicans will oppose Mills' nomination, said House Minority Leader Josh Tardy, R-Newport.

''Based on my informal poll of our caucus, we will make an enthusiastic endorsement of Janet Mills,'' he said. ''For us, it's about having a competent, credible top law enforcement officer in the state.''

Mills spent 15 years as district attorney for Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties. She currently is an attorney at a law firm in Skowhegan with her brother, Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville.

In a speech before the secret-ballot vote, Mills said she has spent 32 years working in the Maine justice system. A native of rural Maine, she said her grandparents were potato farmers and stone cutters.

Throughout the years, she's worked on many Democratic campaigns.

''I have never let a Democrat down and I have never stopped practicing law,'' she said.

House and Senate Democrats also chose their nominees for secretary of state, treasurer and auditor. Because Democrats hold strong majorities in the House and Senate, their positions are all but assured.

They nominated incumbents for three of the positions: Matthew Dunlap for secretary of state, David Lemoine of Old Orchard Beach for treasurer and Neria Douglass for auditor.

The only real race was for attorney general.

Current Attorney General Steven Rowe is barred by term limits from seeking another term. He has said he may run for governor in 2010.

Throughout the nominating speeches for the attorney general post, Democrats made reference to the heated battle for the job. Faircloth and Brautigam both gave up their seats in the Legislature to run for the position.

''Let's commit ourselves today, regardless of the outcome of the AG's race, to hang together and not squander the majority and the opportunity we have,'' said Rep. Richard Cleary, D-Houlton, who nominated Faircloth.

In speaking on behalf of Mills, Rep.-elect Henry Beck of Waterville encouraged fellow freshmen to support his choice.

''I hope you consider the kind of confidence you can have if we choose an attorney general candidate who is supremely qualified,'' he said.

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