Older Voters: A Formidable Factor in Maine Gubernatorial Race
Friday, October 7, 2022
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her challenger, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, both are courting votes from Maine's largest contingency -- people age 50 and older -- and the race is tight.
Mills has touted her Cabinet on Aging, and increasing community supports to Mainers who want long-term in-home health services. LePage has pledged to cut the estate tax, allowing more affluent Mainers and their families to retain their wealth.
Older voters are listening. Jane Margesson, AARP Maine communications director, said her group's last survey, done in May, found 88% of respondents are "extremely motivated" to vote in November.
"Seven in 10 voters from that same survey, 50-plus, said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate - for governor, for example - who supports paid family medical leave," she said.
Mills has said she is "generally in favor" of paid family and medical leave, while LePage has said he is "not a big fan" and would rather focus on creating a robust economy, where people make enough money to care for their loved ones.
Access to affordable broadband and rising energy costs are other top concerns. Mills has asked the state to intervene in two recent utility rate-hike requests, and focused on heating aid for low-income households. LePage has said he would use any state surplus monies to subsidize heating oil for residents.
Margesson said many older voters are concerned about surviving on fixed incomes.
"When it comes to the price of necessities like groceries and prescription drugs that are skyrocketing," she said, "Mainers want their leaders to provide solutions to inflation and the rising cost of living."
AARP Maine, which is nonpartisan, has posted interviews with both gubernatorial candidates on its website, as well as what Margesson said is the most important information - how, where and when to vote.
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