Maine’s two legislative chambers in Augusta were unusually crowded this morning, as outgoing Governor John Baldacci swore in elected members of the 125th Legislature.
Presiding over the august precincts of the House chamber, Baldacci congratulated newly elected legislators and their families, and urged them to “join forces” in order to advance the interests of the state.
Heeding tradition, Democratic floor leaders concurred with Republican nominations for the Speaker of the House, the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk of the House, and the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms.
Robert Nutting, who was elected Speaker of the House by a majority of the 149 members present at today’s ceremony, was administered the oath of office by retiring Clerk of the House Millicent M. MacFarland.
During his inaugural address, Speaker Nutting extolled the frugality and industry of Maine workers: “The Maine work ethic is recognized no matter where you go in this country. The people of Maine who have elected us as stewards of their government expect us to lead by this example. They expect us to approach the difficult work of managing this state with the same spirit of independence and perseverance.”
Speaker Nutting stressed that Republicans are on a sort of probationary period: “The voters have given us a chance, but that is all that they have given us.”
Signifying Republican legislative priorities and echoing incoming Governor-elect LePage’s campaign chorus, Nutting said: “We are charged today and for the next two years to do one thing: to restore the promise of this great state. Our challenges today are that we are stewards of a government that has become too burdensome, but that has much work still too do. We must at once reduce the size and scope of government while leveraging its force to clear the playing field of options that prevent our people from realizing their full potential.”