Ex-Maine Gov. John Baldacci opposes Question 1

Gov. Paul LePage, left, acknowledges Maine's former governors, from left, Democrat John Baldacci, Independent Angus King, Republican John McKernan, and Democrat  Joseph Brennan and Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley during his inaugural address at the Augusta Civic Center on January 5, 2011. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

Gov. Paul LePage, left, acknowledges Maine’s former governors, including John Baldacci, at left, during his first inaugural address at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 5, 2011.
(Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

Former Maine Gov. John Baldacci came out against Question 1 on the November ballot in a radio interview on Thursday.

He’s the most prominent Democrat so far to come out against the referendum, which would increase funding for Maine’s taxpayer-funded election system, add transparency requirements for political advertisements from outside groups and increase penalties for election law violations.

Baldacci said on WGAN he has never supported public financing for campaigns in Maine, “because the budget being as tight as it is and the needs of people being as great as they are, that’s an expenditure that the state shouldn’t be making” and increasing it would be wrong.

“The public treasury can never keep up with that sort of thing and shouldn’t be used for it,” he said.

It’s a rare point of agreement with Baldacci’s successor, Republican Paul LePage, who opposes Question 1 and has called it a “scam.” The Maine State Chamber of Commerce also came out against the funding portion of the proposal this week.

But Andrew Bossie, president of Mainers for Accountable Elections, the coalition of groups supporting the law, said in a statement that Baldacci’s position shouldn’t be a surprise, given that he works as an economic development and government relations adviser at Pierce Atwood, a lobbying firm.

“Question 1 would reduce the role of big money in our elections so we can have a government that works for everyday Mainers,” Bossie said. “Is it really a surprise that Gov. Baldacci, who took special interest money when running for governor and now works for one of the state’s top corporate lobbying firms, would be opposed to Question 1?”

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.