October 31, 2010

First spouse: Top candidates for governor have believers in their corners

The two wives and one husband would assume very different roles as Blaine House occupants.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Ann LePage is a housewife who works at Marden's Surplus & Salvage and cares for her ill mother.

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Melanie Stewart Cutler, wife of independent Eliot Cutler, is a pyschiatrist who would advocate for the mentally ill as first lady.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Jim Mitchell, husband of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell, relaxes in their home in Vassalboro as the sun sets after campaigning for his wife in Guilford earlier in the day.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

Additional Photos Below

Melanie Stewart Cutler is a psychiatrist and a former lawyer.

Jim Mitchell is a veteran probate judge and attorney.

They are three vastly different people, but they have one big thing in common: their spouses are running for the highest office in the state, and one of them will soon become first lady or first gentleman.

The three have another common characteristic: they are fiercely loyal to and supportive of their spouses in the race for governor and each believes he or she is best qualified for the job.

Last week, they talked about their lives, their mates and the campaign.

Ann LePage, 52, wife of Republican candidate Paul LePage, works part-time at Marden's Surplus & Salvage, where her husband is general manager. And she drives him to all campaign events.

She says the family plans to move to the governor's mansion, the Blaine House, if her husband, now Waterville's mayor, is elected. When Angus King was governor, he and his wife remained in their Brunswick home.

"We will move to Augusta because, knowing Paul the way I do, I know he is going to work 15 hours a day and I'm used to that because that's how Paul rolls."

People often ask what her focus would be as first lady, she said.

"I'm a mom; I'm a wife, and we take care of my mom. To me, it's all about family. I haven't really thought about that position in the Blaine House. Right now, my mom is my No. 1 concern. She is 72. We told my dad when he died that we'd protect her, we'd take care of her -- and we're doing that."

Likewise, Dr. Melanie Stewart Cutler, wife of independent candidate Eliot Cutler, said they would move to the Blaine House from Cape Elizabeth.

"It's a beautiful house and we'd be proud to live there," she said.

Melanie Cutler, 61, is a psychiatrist who works with children and adolescents in Portland. She was an attorney before enrolling in medical school in her 40s at the urging of her husband, who knew that was her lifelong dream.

As first lady, advocating for the mentally ill would be among her important projects.

"There are so many issues crying out for attention -- particularly mental health and behavioral issues," she said. "I have a long-standing interest in issues related to domestic violence, elder care, elder abuse delivery of mental health services generally, and the stigma attached to mental health. I'm likely to be an avid advocate for the mentally ill."

Jim Mitchell, husband of Democrat Libby Mitchell, the state Senate president, has been a probate judge for 31 years in Kennebec County and is a partner in the law firm Jim Mitchell & Jed Davis, P.A., in Augusta. He is running for re-election for probate judge Nov. 2.

Jim Mitchell, 68, said he expects they would leave Vassalboro for Augusta.


Ann LePage grew up in Vassalboro, the daughter of mill workers, and graduated from Winslow High School in 1976. Her father was an electrician at the former Keyes-Fibre Co.; her mother stacked paper plates.

Married 26 years, Paul and Ann LePage met at then-Scott Paper Co. in Winslow, where she was a union representative and he was in management, she said.

She said she loves to clean and organize and spend time with people.

"I'm a people person. I enjoy people. I just think I'm real, I'm not pretentious, but I like to have a good time."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Ann LePage, wife of Republican candidate Paul LePage, works at Marden’s part-time and takes care of her mother.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel


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