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John E. Baldacci

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John Baldacci
January 30, 1955
Baldacci.jpg
Governor of Maine
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 8, 2003
Preceded by Angus King
Political party Democrat
Profession Business Owner
Website Governor John Baldacci Official site

John Elias Baldacci (b. January 30, 1955) is the current Governor of the U.S. state of Maine. A Democrat, he was born in Bangor, Maine, one of eight siblings in a family of Italian-Lebanese origin.

Political 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 reelected to Congress in the elections of 1996, 1998, and 2000, serving on the House Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Election as Governor

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 is 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 maintains the program can 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.[1]

2006 election

Baldacci ran for reelection 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.

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 oppose the move. Baldacci claims that the proposal will reduce bureaucratic redundancy and make more money available for classrooms. Critics contend it reduces local control. Debate over the proposal continues, 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.

Baldacci has also proposed a controversial cigarette tax of an additional $1.50 per pack, which would bring Maine's tax to the highest cigarette tax in the nation at $3.50 in tax per pack.

His current term will end in January of 2011.

Personal

Born in Bangor, Maine, he 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, a Bangor City Councilor, he entered public service as the youngest member of that Council at the age of 23 in 1978.

He 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.

Contact information

Office of the Governor
1 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0001
Phone: 207-287-3531 / 207-287-6548 (TTY)
Fax: 207-287-1034

References

  1. http://www.mdf.org/mdf/speeches/interimreport.pdf

External links

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.