Breaking News
More () »

Janet Mills elected to serve another term as Maine governor

Paul LePage conceded the race on Wednesday afternoon.

MAINE, USA — Maine Gov. Janet Mills is the projected winner of the 2022 re-election, according to NBC News. 

President Joe Biden reportedly called Mills to congratulate her win shortly before midnight, according to a news release from the White House.  

Challenger Paul LePage, a Republican who previously served two terms as Maine governor, spoke at about 11:45 p.m. Tuesday but did not formally concede until Wednesday afternoon.

LePage released the following statement Wednesday: “I accept the results of yesterday’s election. I continue to have grave concerns for the people of Maine over the need for home heating oil relief and efforts to handle inflation. I urge the Governor to take action.”

During the campaign, Mills promoted her stewardship through the pandemic. She boosted the state's rainy-day fund to its highest level, fully funded the state's share of education and sent $850 relief checks to most Mainers.

LePage has called her pandemic orders a “reign of terror,” and suggested she was “fortunate” to have benefited from federal pandemic dollars that gave her administration a boost.

Credit: AP
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a rally, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in York, Maine. Mills is being challenged by Republican Paul LePage and independent Sam Hunkler. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Credit: AP
Former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, marches in the State of Maine Bicentennial Parade, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine. LePage faces Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in the general election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Polls suggested a close race on Election Day — one of a dozen or so competitive races for governor across the country.

Mills is a moderate former attorney general from a family prominent in public service. LePage is an unapologetic conservative who suffered abuse and was homeless as a boy before he attended college and launched a business career.

LePage stormed to office in 2010, and later described himself as a prototype for Republican President Donald Trump, in effect “Trump before Trump.” Democrats urged Mainers to reject the man who told the Portland NAACP to “kiss my butt,” compared the IRS to the Gestapo and said he'd tell then-President Barack Obama “to go to hell.”

LePage’s penchant for controversy overshadowed his conservative record of reducing welfare rolls, shrinking government, paying off hospital debt and reforming state pensions.

Credit: AP
FILE - Paul LePage, Republican candidate for Maine governor, speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Portland, Maine. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills is leading her Republican challenger LePage in the race for Maine governor. The two old rivals are in the midst of a contentious, expensive campaign. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Mills, for her part, earned scorn from Republicans for pandemic orders that closed businesses and required vaccines for health workers. She said the measures helped the state with the nation's oldest population weather the pandemic.

Credit: AP
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills speaks to reporters after a rally, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in York, Maine. Mills is being challenged by Republican Paul LePage and independent Sam Hunkler. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

The two were no strangers.

They clashed when Mills’ tenure as attorney general overlapped with LePage’s time in the Blaine House. Mills angered the governor by refusing to represent his office, forcing him to hire his own counsel.

LePage decamped for Florida after leaving office in 2019. He was prevented from seeking a third consecutive term by the Maine Constitution. But he didn’t stay away for long, and soon returned to challenge Mills.

For this race, LePage, 74, avoided the public comparisons to Trump while on the campaign trail and tried to moderate his tone.

He once declared that Trump’s election had been stolen, but acknowledged that Democrat Joe Biden was legitimately elected. He surprised abortion opponents by saying he wanted to keep Maine’s law legalizing abortion on the books, and he said he'd veto a ban on early abortions that has been adopted in some states.

He leaned into culture wars during his campaign, calling for a “bill of rights” for parents and accusing Democrats of being soft on crime. He also pressed for the elimination of Maine’s income tax.

Mills, 74, said she wanted to continue to focus on health care after expanding the state’s Medicaid rolls, and on education after boosting funding. She vowed to work to grow the economy and to ensure that women continue to have the legal right to an abortion.

A third candidate, independent Sam Hunkler, wasn’t expected to play a big role in the race, as deep-pocketed independent Eliot Cutler did in 2010 and 2014, when LePage won each election without a majority.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Paul LePage conceded. He did not formally concede. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out