Bill would prevent Maine AG from running for higher office while still on the job

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 26, 2013

AUGUSTA, Maine (Legal Newsline) -- Maine Attorney General Janet Mills would be prohibited from running for federal office, or governor, if a bill in the state's Legislature passes.

Legislative Document 947/Senate Paper 0325, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Johnson, D-Somerville, would prohibit the attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer from running for higher office while they hold those jobs.

Maine's attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer are all chosen by the state Legislature in a joint session.

Johnson told the Bangor Daily News Monday that he hoped LD 947/SP 0325 would help prevent a situation like that of last year's U.S. Senate race.

Attorney General William Schneider, Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Secretary of State Charlie Summers, all Republicans, ran in the primary for incumbent U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat.

Snowe, a Republican, decided to retire instead of running for a fourth term.

Summers won the primary, but lost in the general election to former Gov. Angus King, an independent.

"At that time, questions were raised whether the secretary of state should be on the ballot in an election his office oversees," Johnson told the newspaper. "And there were further questions raised whether a constitutional officer holding a presumably full-time job could adequately fulfill that duty while campaigning for statewide office."

He said he didn't see how the three officers could fulfill their duties and be on the ballot.

Johnson's bill, titled "An Act to Ensure the Effectiveness of Constitutional Officers," was most recently referred to the Committee on State and Local Government.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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