Getting healthier

Maine moved up to the eighth healthiest state in the country, according to a United Health Foundation ranking, but still got beat my Vermont and New Hampshire, which came in second and third.

The state’s ranking improved from 10th place last year thanks to its decrease in smoking rates; increase in the number of Mainers with health insurance; low violent crime rate; low infant mortality; good prenatal care; low incidence of infectious diseases; low rate of cardiovascular deaths; and the decrease in the number of children living in poverty.

The state needs to work on the number of residents considered obese and its high rate of cancer deaths.

While Democrats quickly pointed to DirigoChoice insurance as a main reason for the state’s good ranking on health insurance, Maine has done well in this category in the past because of the number of people on Medicaid.

The healthiest state in the nation, according to the report, was Minnesota. Mississippi came in last.

LaMarche in the race

Green Independent Party candidate, Pat LaMarche, is in the race for governor again, having run for vice president of the U.S. on the Green ticket in 2004 and for governor the first time in 1998.

LaMarche told a gathering at the Statehouse last week that she is running for the state’s highest office because the people of Maine deserve “to be represented by somebody who knows exactly what their life is like.”

In 1998 LaMarche – known as Genny Judge on her radio talk show – took 7 percent of the vote with a campaign budget of only $20,000. This time around she is running as a Clean Elections candidate – an option not available in 1998 – and could have as much as $1 million or more in funds to spend. She is expected to take away votes from Democratic incumbent Gov. John Baldacci.

LaMarche is now the seventh person to announce their intention to run as Clean Election candidates. All must collect $5 checks from 2,500 registered voters to qualify.

Jonathan Wayne, director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, said the commission has enough money – $4.6 million – to see three Clean Election candidates through the process, including the primaries.

That would theoretically cover one Republican, one Green and one independent on the general election ballot. If two independents qualify along with the expected party candidates, the commission would need to ask the Legislature for more money. Gov. Baldacci has announced he is running a privately funded campaign.

– Victoria Wallack, Maine Statehouse News

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