No primary elections will be needed this summer to determine who will run for governor for Maine’s two major political parties.

Democratic incumbent Janet Mills and former two-term Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican seeking an unprecedented third nonconsecutive term, are now officially on a collision course for the Blaine House this fall after no other candidates qualified to run for their party’s nomination. The deadline to qualify for the primary ballot was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

There is still time, however, for independent or write-in candidates to emerge for the general election in November. If that doesn’t happen by June 1, this will be the first head-to-head gubernatorial race in roughly 40 years. 

Democrat John Glowa Sr., of South China, told the Press Herald on Tuesday that he was unable to secure the 2,000 signatures needed to force a primary against Mills. And no other candidates, either Democratic or Republican, filed nomination papers ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

Michael Heath, of Chelsea, had announced a Republican primary challenge to LePage, but said Tuesday he is now considering running as an independent, which would require 4,000 signatures, or as a write-in candidate.

The lack of a primary will allow the major party candidates to conserve resources, avoid exacerbating any intraparty tension and focus their full attention on each other in what is expected to be a costly and contentious race this fall.


Through the end of last year, Mills had raised $1.6 million for her re-election campaign, while LePage had raised $900,000. And the Maine Republican Party announced that it has already booked $3.9 million in campaign ads for this cycle. National political groups are also expected to invest in the race.

Mills frequently clashed with LePage when she served as attorney general during his tenure. She refused to represent him in court over decisions to close the Downeast Correctional Facility, or to defend him in a lawsuit challenging his decision not to expand Medicaid after it was approved by voters. In 2017, LePage hired his own attorney to try to implement the controversial immigration policies of then-Pres. Donald Trump and then sued Mills, who opposed the policies, in Kennebec Superior Court in an effort to recoup the costs. But the suit was dismissed.

LePage, who moved to Florida after his second term expired in 2018 then to Edgecomb last summer to lay the groundwork for a third gubernatorial run, formally launched his re-election campaign last fall. He has repeated his call for the state to eliminate income taxes, which account for about 40 percent of the state’s revenue. That proposal previously ran into opposition from fellow Republicans, because it would rely on increasing other taxes to make up for the lost revenue. He also has highlighted his previous efforts to reduce the number of people receiving public assistance.

LePage and Republicans have tried to paint Mills as a poor steward of the state economy, but it’s a difficult argument to make after the state budget and residents have benefited from economic growth and a historic influx of federal funding that made state coffers flush.

Mills has noted that the state’s Rainy Day Fund has topped $500 million for the first time in history and the state’s gross domestic product now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Nonpartisan revenue forecasters are predicting a $1.2 billion state budget surplus through mid-2023.

While LePage has criticized Mills’ response to the pandemic, Mills has touted her administration’s response to COVID-19. Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest death rates among states during the pandemic.

Mills has also touted her decision early in her first term to expand Medicaid to 90,000 more people, something that had been approved by voters but blocked by LePage. She also called for more investment in Maine people, highlighting the need to expand child care, build more housing, increase access to broadband internet, provide free community college and fight inflation.

In recent weeks, however, inflation, especially rapid increases in the cost of gasoline and home heating fuel, has emerged as the central issue in the campaign.

Republicans and LePage have proposed suspending the gas tax for 90 days to nine months, while Mills has pointed to a proposal in her supplemental budget that would return half the projected state surplus to more than 800,000 taxpayers in the form of $750 checks.

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