Democratic state senator questions Secretary of State’s role in candidate petitions now that he’s a candidate

AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican leaders in the Legislature on Thursday rejected an after-deadline bill request from Sen. John Patrick, D-Oxford, that sought to clarify the criteria for constitutional officers seeking elected office.

With all three of Maine’s Constitutional Officers running for higher office, it seems especially timely to have clarity on this issue. It is understood that constitutional officers remain apolitical,” said Patrick. a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “And campaigning is all about politics.”

Patrick said he was particularly concerned about Secretary of State Charlie Summers, who is now a U.S. Senate candidate.

Summers is seeking the Republican nomination and is among six GOP candidates, including state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Attorney General William Schneider.

Summers’ wife, Ruth Summers, also is a state Senate candidate.

“It seems like we at least have a perception problem. Charlie Summers is in charge of his petitions, his challengers’ petitions, his wife’s petitions and her challengers’ petitions,” said Patrick. “I think Maine people expect a higher level of integrity for the the election process.”

Summers has said that while he is Maine’s top elections official, he plans to remove himself from the petition certification process. He does not plan to step down.

Patrick said he will now submit a Joint Order to the Revisors’ Office authorizing the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to report out a bill, “An Act to Ensure That the Responsibility of Constitutional Officers are Not Compromised When a Constitutional Officer is a Candidate for Office”.

The Joint Order will likely appear on the Senate calendar early next week.