PORTLAND — Former Gov. John Baldacci said Thursday that he will decide this spring whether to run again for governor, and that anyone who runs must be a strong cheerleader for Maine.

“It’s something I’m looking at, and I expect to make a decision in the April time frame,” Baldacci said before the Portland Regional Chamber’s “Eggs and Issues” breakfast meeting at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.

“The concern I have is all these negative outbursts that are distracting us from the more important issues facing the state,” Baldacci said.

“Whether it’s me or someone else, we need the leader of the state to be more of a cheerleader and an advocate for the state,” he said. “Like a coach, the leader should be a cheerleader on the field and give direction in the locker room.”

He would not say what would be the deciding factor in his decision for 2014. He also declined to address his chances of success in a third run for the Blaine House.

Gov. Paul LePage did not directly address his potential Democratic opponent in his State of the State speech on Tuesday, but mentioned the challenges left behind when Baldacci’s second term ended in early 2011.

LePage said “hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid bills to Maine’s hospitals” were left for him.

LePage slammed Baldacci previously for forging a 10-year contract to outsource the state’s liquor distribution system to help plug a budget shortfall.

When asked about LePage’s proposal to use future liquor revenues to repay the state’s debt to Maine hospitals, Baldacci said he provided a vehicle in the liquor contract in 2004 to forge a new agreement.

“We left them the resources and the tools to be able to address the issues down the road,” Baldacci said.

In remarks prepared for the breakfast meeting, Baldacci said Portland has been doing well in driving growth in business and tourism, and that must spread more throughout the state. He did not offer a specific plan for making that happen.

“When I became governor, we faced a $1.3 billion deficit,” Baldacci said. “If we weren’t at the bottom when we started, we could see it from where we were.

“We don’t have the maturity or leadership today to recognize that we’re going to have disagreements and we have to work together,” he said.

Speaking along with former state Senate President Richard Bennett, Baldacci emphasized the need for both parties nationally to work together to tackle the federal government’s $16 trillion debt.

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com