John E. Baldacci

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John E. Baldacci
Baldacci.jpg
U.S. Senate, Maine
Former candidate
PartyDemocratic
Prior offices
73rd Governor of Maine
January 8, 2003 - January 5, 2011
U.S. House, Maine's 2nd Congressional District
1995-2003
Maine State Senator
1982-1994
Education
High schoolBangor High School
Bachelor'sUniversity of Maine at Orono
Personal
BirthdayJanuary 30, 1955
Place of birthBangor, Maine
ProfessionBusiness Owner
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John Elias Baldacci (b. January 30, 1955) is a former Governor of Maine. A Democrat, he was born in Bangor, Maine, one of eight siblings in a family of Italian-Lebanese origin. Baldacci was a 2012 Democratic candidate who sought election to the U.S. Senate from Maine.

Baldacci expressed an intention to run for the Senate seat in Maine, but announced just prior to the filing deadline of March 15, 2012 that he would not be running for Senate.[1] He said that his main reason for not running is because his family did not want to leave Maine to move to Washington.[2]

Biography

Born in Bangor, Maine, Baldacci grew up with seven siblings, in a Lebanese-Italian family. As a youngster, he worked in the family business, Momma Baldacci's restaurant in Bangor. A graduate of Bangor High School, he received a B. S. degree in history from the University of Maine at Orono. Following his father's example, he entered public service as the youngest member of the Bangor City Councilor at the age of 23 in 1978.

Career

Baldacci was first elected to public office in 1978 at the age of 23, when he served on the Bangor City Council. He continued in politics, winning election to the Maine Senate in 1982. Baldacci served as a State Senator for 12 years. In 1994, following the retirement of his cousin, United States Senator George J. Mitchell, Baldacci won election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's Second District, replacing Senator (then Representative) Olympia Snowe, who had moved on to Mitchell's open Senate seat. He was re-elected to Congress in the elections of 1996, 1998, and 2000, serving on the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Elections

2014

See also: Maine gubernatorial election, 2014

The former two term Governor is considering a run for third term 2014.[3] His decision hinges on whether U.S. House Reps. Mike Michaud and/or Chellie Pingree make a bid for the Democratic nomination.[4]

2012

See also: United States Senate elections in Maine, 2012

Baldacci was running in the 2012 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Maine. Baldacci sought the nomination on the Democratic ticket.[5]

Baldacci expressed an intention to run for the Senate seat in Maine, but announced just prior to the filing deadline of March 15, 2012 that he would not be running for Senate.[6] He said that his main reason for not running is because his family did not want to leave Maine to move to Washington.[7]

2006

Baldacci ran for re-election in 2006, facing opposition from Republican Chandler Woodcock, Independents Barbara Merrill and Phillip Napier, and Green Independent Party candidate Pat LaMarche.

Democratic-leaning voters had a wide array of choices. Merrill (who was elected to her state house seat as a Democrat), Woodcock, and LaMarche received money from Maine's Clean Elections law. Merrill and LaMarche were generally seen as taking votes from Baldacci, while Woodcock's socially conservative position prompted many longtime Republicans to throw their votes to Baldacci, Merrill, or LaMarche.

Baldacci won the election with 38% of the vote. Woodcock placed second with 30%. Merrill received a surprising 21%, narrowly defeating Baldacci among unenrolled voters. LaMarche finished with 10%, enough to maintain ballot access for the Green Party.

2002

A Democrat, Baldacci was first elected in 2002, defeating Republican candidate Peter Cianchette, who garnered 41% of the vote, and Green Party nominee Jonathan Carter, who won 9%. Baldacci was sworn in as Maine's Governor on January 8, 2003. In 2006, Baldacci won re-election from a field of 4 major candidates. As Governor, he was a member of the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association.

First term

After being elected, Baldacci attempted to fill a $1.2 billion deficit. This was done through budget cuts and fee increases. Baldacci refused to raise broad based taxes, honoring a campaign pledge.

Baldacci also established a controversial state funded health care program known as Dirigo Health. The program offers subsidized health care to individuals and Maine businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Individuals in the system enjoy unlimited preventive care. The program is funded by taxes levied on health insurance companies. This tax is controversial, with critics claiming that it raises health care costs and drives insurers out of the state. Proponents claim that the preventive care eventually lowers health care costs. Thus far, Dirigo not been widely successful and has endured political and public setbacks. The Baldacci administration maintained the program could be fixed if more taxpayer money is invested into it. Regardless of the future of Dirigo, its reputation will remain contentious.

In 2005, Baldacci introduced legislation to expand Maine's civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. This legislation in Maine had been defeated via referendum by voters two times before. The law passed, but opponents of the law initiated a referendum to overturn the law. Voters upheld the new law.

Baldacci is a supporter of regionalization, a sometimes contentious policy of merging local-government services to save money on administrative costs. While Baldacci has had some success with regionalizing local government, it has often come under fire from rural lawmakers who view the process as weakening their communities.[8]

Second term

Governor Baldacci was inaugurated on January 3, 2007 in Augusta, Maine. During his inaugural speech, Baldacci reaffirmed his controversial goal to combine Maine's 152 school districts into only 26.

Shortly after beginning his second term, he proposed consolidating Maine's 152 school districts into 26. Many Maine teachers and administrators opposed the move. Baldacci claimed that the proposal will reduce bureaucratic redundancy and make more money available for classrooms. Critics contended it would reduce local control. Debate over the proposal continued, with the Legislature inititally appearing to favor a compromise proposal that would reduce the number of districts, but not as radically as proposed by Baldacci, and with exceptions for island schools. Eventually, legislation passed to consolidate the districts down to 80 but resistance to consolidation limited the effect of the law.[9]

Baldacci also proposed a controversial cigarette tax of an additional $1.50 per pack, which would have made Maine's tax the highest cigarette tax in the nation at $3.50 in tax per pack. A cigarette tax increase eventually passed.[10]

His second term ended in January of 2011.

Personal

Baldacci is a Roman Catholic. He lives with his wife Karen and son Jack in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine. Baldacci is first cousin to former United States Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell and to famed author David Baldacci. Karen heads up Maine Reads, a nonprofit umbrella organization for Read With ME, privately funded by Verizon.

He holds a technician class amateur radio license with call sign KB1NXP.

External links

References

Political offices
Preceded by
Angus King
73rd Governor of Maine
2003–2011
Succeeded by
Paul LePage
Preceded by
Olympia Snowe
U.S. House-Maine's 2nd Congressional District
1995-2003
Succeeded by
Mike Michaud