Gov. Paul LePage wants to get rid of the secretary of state position and replace it with a lieutenant governor. The duties of the secretary of state, from running elections to licensing drivers, would come under the lieutenant governor, who also would be first in the line of succession to replace the governor. The governor’s office confirmed it is drafting legislation that would not only make that change to the state’s constitution but would change how two other constitutional officers are appointed. LePage wants the governor, not the Legislature, to name the attorney general and state treasurer. LePage has had numerous disagreements with the Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat who was elected by the Legislature. She is serving her third term, having been elected when Democrats held legislative majorities in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
Although the bill has yet to be submitted, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting has confirmed its rough outline with Peter Steele, the governor’s director of communications, and with Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
Maine is one of five states without a lieutenant governor. In states with lieutenant governors, they are first in the line of succession to be governor should the governor die in office or vacate the office. In Maine, the Senate president would assume the governorship if the governor left office prematurely.
LePage’s proposed changes would require an amendment to the Maine Constitution. That can only be accomplished with two-thirds approval by the Legislature and approval by Maine voters in a statewide vote.