Gov. Paul LePage ended one standoff with the Kennebec County Democratic Committee on Friday, just a day after he escalated another one with it over the county sheriff post.
On Friday morning, he named Democrat Patsy Crockett, a former state representative, to be a county commissioner, replacing Beverly Daggett, who died in September. Maine law says when county offices are vacated, the governor must choose a replacement from recommendations from the county committee of the party to which the last officeholder belonged.
The committee gave LePage two names in October — Crockett and Augusta City Councilor Patrick Paradis, another former legislator. But LePage wanted more names, according to the Kennebec Journal, and the office languished unfilled.
But tension between LePage and the county committee is still high: On Thursday, he announced that he’d nominate Ken Mason to serve as Kennebec County sheriff, even though the committee only forwarded him the name of interim Sheriff Ryan Reardon to replace former Sheriff Randall Liberty, who left in September to become warden of the Maine State Prison.
LePage criticized the party for only giving him one name, but his nomination may not go forward: Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office must certify it and a spokeswoman for Dunlap said he has “questions about the lawfulness” of the appointment.
So, there’s no timeline for Mason, the chief deputy of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, to take the Kennebec job. There’s an election for the office in November, and only Reardon has filed to run, though Mason said he also intends to.
Mason is a Democrat, so if he files to run for sheriff in that party, it would set up a June primary showdown with Reardon. The deadline for party candidates to submit nomination papers to Dunlap is March 15.
County Administrator Robert Devlin said Friday that he has had discussions with District Attorney Maeghan Maloney on the topic, but it’s in Dunlap’s hands for now.
“Until Mr. Mason is sworn in, Ryan will stay as interim sheriff,” he said.