AUGUSTA — Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham is going to have to use his legal name of William Robert when he runs for re-election this year.

“I’ve been called Billy Bob my whole entire life, but the one name I’ve never been referred to is William Robert – a  lot of people do not have a clue that is my name,” Faulkingham, a Republican from Winter Harbor, told his colleagues on the House floor Tuesday.

He urged them to override Gov. Janet Mills’ veto of a bill that he successfully ushered through the Legislature last year allowing candidates running for office to use their nicknames on the ballot. His effort fell short, however, as Tuesday’s vote to override came in at 86-53, seven votes shy of the two-thirds margin needed.

Faulkingham, who is seeking his second two-year term in the Legislature, said the bill was meant to provide transparency to voters in many small towns who would be more likely to know somebody by their nickname. It isn’t a lack of pride in his legal name, which he shares with his great-grandfather, a World War I veteran, he said.

Mills said in her veto message that she opposed the measure out of concern some candidates could exploit the use of a nickname and turn the ballot into an “electioneering instrument” with monikers like “the Greatest” or “the People’s Hero.” She said candidates can always use their nicknames on their campaign materials, and if they feel strongly about using their nickname they can change their name legally in probate court.

Some Maine politicians have done just that, including Maine’s 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, who was born Rochelle Marie Johnson.

Another lawmaker affected by the nickname bill is Assistant House Minority Leader Trey Stewart, a Republican from Presque Isle. He said he supported the measure because, like Faulkingham, he is better known by his nickname, “Trey” than by his legal name Harold L. Stewart III. He said he was named for his father, a judge, and his grandfather, a lawyer.

“For those who don’t go by nicknames in this chamber, it does change the dynamic of what you are doing, especially those of us from small towns,” Stewart said, adding that he thinks highly of both his father and his grandfather.

“I think they are much better men than I am,” Stewart said. “So, if you actually wanted to get rid of me you would override this veto because people would know who they are actually voting for.”

 


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