Check out the website:  Look at the recent Political Notes and Len’s Letters on the website.   Political Note #358 Laura Kelly Kansas Governor, Political Note #366 Tony Evers Wisconsin Governor, Political Note #381 Gretchen Whitmer Michigan Governor, Political Note #402 Katie Hobbs Arizona Governor, Political Note #407 Janet Mills Maine Governor

 Political Note #386 Gavin Newsom California Governor (The Recall) (The recall is scheduled for September 14, 2021)

 Political Note #396 Terry McAuliffe Virginia Governor, Political Note #401 Hala Ayala Virginia Lt. Governor (Virginia votes on November 2, 2021)

August 29, 2021           Political Note #408 Janet Mills Maine Governor

2022                             General Election

Are you interested in a preview of what 2024 would look like if Donald Trump were the Republican Presidential nominee?  Here’s your chance.  The incumbent Democratic Governor of Maine, Janet Mills, will be running against the former governor, Republican Paul LePage.

“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” Paul LePage announced before he endorsed Trump in 2016.  When LePage was first elected governor, he promised shrink government, lower taxes, decrease business regulation, and put “Maine people ahead of politics.” During the campaign a newspaper headline read “LePage tells Obama to Go to Hell.”

Elected governor in 2010, he vetoed 642 pieces of legislation passed by the Maine House and Senate. Here’s an example of his governance: After the Democrats gained control of the legislature in 2013, he said he would veto every piece of legislation sponsored by a Democrat that passed, regardless of its content.  He was using the veto to retaliate against the Democrats for shelving his proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the state income tax.

Janet Mills is to Paul LePage what Joe Biden is to Donald Trump.  She is not a political newcomer.  Her father was the US Attorney for Maine, an appointment supported by a Republican Senator who was a family friend, Margaret Chace Smith. He worked under two Republican Presidents – Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. She attended her father’s old school, Colby College, and then escaped to San Francisco.  Would it be right to think of the hippie haven Haight-Ashbury?  Not exactly.  The young Janet Mills had formerly been bed-ridden and isolated, a victim of severe scoliosis that was remedied by surgery.  Not that she was always immobile.  Growing up, she had a paper route.  She worked in a diner.  Nevertheless, she needed to live a life that was made possible by the surgery.  In San Francisco she was a nurse’s assistant in a psychiatric hospital.

When Janet Mills returned to New England, she went to Boston, to the decidedly blue-collar UMass-Boston.  She completed her degree, but didn’t stay put.  She traveled to Europe and staying long enough to turn her French major into French fluency (a kind of counterpoint to LePage, a French-Canadian who grew up speaking French and was initially rejected from a Maine college because he wasn’t sufficiently fluent in English).  Three years after graduating from UMass-Boston, she started at the University of Maine Law School.  She says she had no political ambitions.  She had interests – women’s issues.

Two Democratic figures tell a story about themselves and the young Janet Mills.  They were in line behind her at a Maine Democratic caucus.  “Young woman,” one of them asked.  Does your father know you are here?  When are you going to tell him that you are a Democrat?”  If she had policy ambitions rather than personal political ambitions, it was because she had joined a party that was foreign to her family’s experience.  Her family, especially her father, were Republican lawyers.

After graduating from law school, she went to work in the Attorney General’s office.  She recalls an early trial in the AG office during which she watched a Portland crime reporter taking notes diligently as she prosecuted.  The morning after she won the conviction, she looked for a report in the newspaper and found it in the women’s section with a headline – The Prosecutor Wore Powder Blue.

With publicity like that, in 1980, she was elected District Attorney for three Maine Counties – the first woman to be elected to the position of DA in New England. Life happened.  She married Stan Kuklinski in 1985.  A successful upstate New York businessman, he and his wife moved to Maine for a semi-retirement/vacation playing tennis while operating the Central Maine Racquet Club.  Then his wife died of cancer.

Teaching tennis, Kuklinski met the local District Attorney.  He married her, bringing with him his five daughters.  She remained as DA.  He started a real estate business and was appointed to the Maine Athletic Commission.  She organized a group lobbying for women’s issues and, in 2002, was elected a State Rep.  In 2009, Janet Mills was elected Attorney General.  Not by the public, though.  In Maine, the legislature elects the Attorney General, who may serve up to four consecutive two year terms.  She was not elected in 2011 because Republicans gained control of the Maine legislature.  She was elected again in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

In 2018, term limited Paul LePage could not run for reelection.  He could make trouble, though.  An opponent of Ranked Choice Voting, being implemented for the first time in the 2018 election, he threatened not to certify election results.  Avoiding complications, without the need for the ranked voting process, Janet Mills was elected governor with 50.9% of the vote.

Janet Mills changed Maine.  A first act as governor was Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  The people of Maine had supported Medicaid expansion in a referendum in 2017.  LePage refused to implement that approval.  Janet Mills dropped the work requirements for Medicaid eligibility that LePage had installed with the Trump administration’s approval.  In January, 2019, she participated in Martin Luther King Jr holiday events in this whitest of all American states – something Paul LePage had refused to do.  She had the help of a cooperative legislature.  She signed a bill banning conversion “therapy” which attempts to coerce and deceive gay people into becoming straight. She signed a bill to require public and private health insurance companies to include coverage for abortions. She signed a law that banned use of styro foam containers and through regulation, she banned the use of nonreusable plastic bags.

In 2022, Maine will see a preview of what a 2024 election against Donald Trump would look like.  Let’s make that preview look like a Democratic victory and a Republican defeat.  Help Janet Mills make that happen.  Chip in on her behalf.

An Endangered Democratic Governor Who Needs Your Help Right Now.

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, is facing a recall vote on September 14, 2021.  Make donations to Stop the Republican Recall

Terry McAuliffe, from Virginia where governors are limited to one term, is running to replace the Democratic governor who replaced him. The election is in November, 2021.

The Cook Report projects the following Democratic governors as Likely, or Leaning Democrat for 2022 rather than as Solidly Democratic.  We should protect those seats.

Kansas              Laura Kelly (Toss up)

Maine                 Janet Mills (Likely D)

Michigan           Gretchen Whitmer (Lean D)

Minnesota        Tim Walz (Likely D)

Nevada              Steve Sisolak (Likely D)

Wisconsin        Tony Evers (Lean D)


We should be thinking about Republican Governerships we can flip.  In some cases, we know who the Democratic nominee will be.

Arizona         Secretary of State Katie Hobbs will be the nominee (Toss up)

Georgia         Ex State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams will be the nominee (Lean R)

Arkansas      African American Nuclear Engineer Chris Jones is making a stir in the Democratic primary for this open seat that would ordinarily be considered (Safe R)


In some cases, we don’t know who the Democratic nominee will be

Florida            Ex Gov and Rep Charlie Crist and Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried are the principal competitors for the Democratic nomination (Lean R)

Ohio                  Mayors John Cranley and Nan Whaley have announced for this seat where the Republican governor is facing a primary challenge (Likely R)

Maryland         I count eight candidates so far for this open seat (Lean D)

Pennsylvania  Democratic governor Tom Wolf is Term Limited. There are numerous Democrats and Republicans seeking this toss up seat.  

Organizations to support

Democratic Governors Association (DGA)  Organizes to elect Democratic governors.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC).  The official organization of the Democratic Party.

Fair Fight Promotes fair elections around the country

Three Cautions while donating through Act Blue (most Democratic candidates use Act Blue for online donations)

  1. Take care to hit the donate button only once. If you hit it a second time, you could be charged for two donations instead of one.
  2. Take care to watch for an already clicked recurring donation. You can unclick it and donate only once if that is your intent.
  3. Watch for your receipt. If the receipt indicates a donation different from your intention, reply to Act Blue via the receipt right away.  They will fix your donation.  They want you to donate only what you intend to donate.