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Maine: Battle for the Statehouse

Incumbent: Gov. John Baldacci (D) is term-limited

Democrat: Elizabeth Mitchell, state Senate and state House former leader

Republican: Waterville Mayor Paul LePage

Independent: Environmental lawyer Eliot Cutler

2008 Presidential Result: Obama 58%; McCain 40%

55+ Population (2009 estimate): 29.5%

Overview: Paul LePage is a Tea Party favorite and Elizabeth Mitchell is a traditional liberal. That opens the way for Eliot Cutler to maybe emerge as a victor in a state that has elected two independent governors, James Longley and Angus King, in fairly recent memory. Environmental issues also are important in this rural state where lobster fishermen and loggers are dependent on the environment for a living. But Maine has also been hit hard by the recession. Mitchell is getting the endorsements of labor unions and teachers, and that should boost her chances.

50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.

Fun Fact: Mitchell celebrated her primary win with a party at Bayside Bowl in Portland, a bowling alley and restaurant owned by her son, Charlie, and state Sen. Justin Alford.

'Wild Card' Issue: "Dirigo Health Care." The Maine motto, "Dirigo," means "I lead," and Maine was trying to take the lead on health care coverage before the Obama administration did, passing a law to provide universal health care. It was controversial from the day it began, particularly the soft drink taxes used to pay for part of it. The taxes were repealed by referendum, but the law is still in place. It's become overwhelmingly popular, with many more people signing up for it than anticipated. What to do about the cost is a key election issue. LePage wants to repeal it; Mitchell to find other ways to fund it (nonspecific).

Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future

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