January 25, 2020

Rep. John Michael running for governor Provocative Auburn legislator hopes to run as independent Clean Election candidate

AUBURN – Auburn’s rebel legislator, independent Rep. John Michael, is running for governor.

Michael, 51, has registered with the state Ethics Commission to run as an independent Clean Election candidate. If he is certified, he will be eligible to receive up to $900,000 in public funding for his campaign.

Michael, the only legislator ever to be censured by the Maine House of Representatives, told the Lewiston Sun Journal he will “shake things up” if elected and put a priority on cutting programs to reduce taxes.

“You’ve got to stop giving a freebie away to everybody who asks for it,” he said. “We’ve got to stop giving it all away. We’ve got to cut programs.”

To qualify for public funding, Michael has to collect $5 contributions from 2,500 individuals by June 3.

He doesn’t see much problem in doing that. He earns a living as a petition-drive organizer, bringing items to referendum.

“I’ve been an activist for 30 years. I have lots of friends,” he said. “We’ve got a good bunch out.”

Michael is known for being outspoken and last year became the first member of the House ever to be censured. The House voted 137-8 to censure Michael after he shouted profanities and verbally abused Sen. Peggy Pendleton, D-Scarborough, and Sen. Neria Douglass, D-Auburn.

After several hearings, the House Ethics Committee recommended Michael be censured and get professional help to control his temper.

He was banned from physically entering the Senate chamber during the 120th legislative session, which means he’s not to enter the chamber until January.

Pendleton said she was “speechless” upon hearing that Michael intended to run for governor.

“Maybe he’s learned,” she said. “Clearly he wouldn’t be my first choice. There are fine people running on both sides.”

Two other gubernatorial candidates – the Green Independent Party’s Jonathan Carter and Republican Jim Libby – already have filed for Clean Election eligibility to receive public funding for this year’s election.

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