PORTLAND — Former Gov. John Baldacci said he will decide in April whether to run again for governor of Maine, but he said no matter who runs, that person needs to be a strong cheerleader for the state.

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

“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 declined to comment on what would be the deciding factor in his decision to run for governor. He also declined to address his chances of success in a Blaine House run.

Gov. Paul LePage did not directly address his expected opponent in his State of the State speech on Tuesday, but mentioned the challenges left behind by Baldacci.

The governor said “hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid bills to Maine’s hospitals” were left for him when he took office in 2011. LePage also previously slammed Baldacci for forging a 10-year contract to outsource the state liquor distribution system to help plug a gap in the budget.

When asked about LePage’s proposal to use future liquor revenues to repay hospital debt, Baldacci said he provided a vehicle in the liquor contract to forge a new agreement under a request for proposal for new bids.

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

In formal prepared remarks for the breakfast meeting, Baldacci said Portland has been doing well in driving growth in business and tourism, but that needed to spread more throughout the state. He did not offer a specific plan on how to make 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 with the former president of the Maine State Senate Richard Bennett, Baldacci emphasized the need for both parties nationally to work together to tackle the the $16 trillion in federal debt.

Jessica Hall 791-6316
jhall@pressherald.com