Democrat Janet Mills has made a change at the top of her campaign as the election enters the final two-month stretch.

Michael Ambler, who has served as Mills’ campaign manager since she joined the Democratic primary in July 2017, has been replaced by veteran Maine political operative Jeremy Kennedy.

Mills’ spokesman Scott Ogden confirmed the change Thursday but said the transition was amicable, comparing Ambler to a starting pitcher and Kennedy to the closer brought in to pitch the final two innings of a baseball game.

In a statement, Mills said she was “deeply grateful” for Ambler’s leadership during her successful primary campaign.

“With Labor Day past and the general election campaign in full force, I am excited to have Jeremy on board,” Mills, who is currently Maine’s attorney general, said in the statement. “Like the thousands of Mainers I’ve heard from, Jeremy understands it’s time for a new direction for Maine – one focused on affordable, high-quality health care, a strong economy with good-paying jobs in every part of the state, and a world-class education for every Maine child. As governor, I will work hard to deliver that for Maine people.”

It’s relatively common for campaigns to shake-up top staffing positions in the final months of an election. And Maine’s race to succeed two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage is widely considered to be a close one.

A Suffolk University poll conducted in early August – one of the few independent surveys on the race at this point – had Mills and Republican businessman Shawn Moody in a virtual dead heat with 39 percent support each. Independents Terry Hayes and Alan Caron trailed at 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The poll of 500 respondents had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Ambler led Mills’ campaign during a hard-fought primary that featured seven Democratic contenders on the June 12 ballot. While Mills failed to win an outright majority after the first vote tally – thereby triggering the nation’s first use of the ranked-choice voting process in a statewide race – she emerged as the victor with 54 percent of the vote in subsequent tabulations.

Prior to joining the Mills campaign, Ambler managed the successful congressional campaign for Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna of California, worked on several state and congressional campaigns and was an intern for Maine U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1.

Kennedy has roughly a decade of experience in Maine politics.

He served as executive director of the Maine Democratic Party from January 2015 to June 2016 and was previously the party’s finance director and get-out-the-vote director for several years. He also held high-level positions in several political campaigns in Maine, including Democrat Libby Mitchell’s unsuccessful run for the Blaine House in 2010 and the 2009 same-sex marriage referendum.

Most recently, Kennedy worked as advocacy director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. He is married to Rep. Matt Moonen, a Democrat who represents part of Portland in the Maine House and is executive director of EqualityMaine.

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