In this Nov. 4, 2021, file photo, Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a news conference at General Insulation in Brewer. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills formally announced Tuesday morning her bid for a second term in the Blaine House.

That announcement has long been expected as the 2022 governor’s race increasingly looks to be a showdown between Mills and her predecessor, Republican Paul LePage

In announcing her bid, Mills focused her platform on expanding child care and access to affordable housing, as well as helping shield Mainers from the pain of increasing inflation.

She touted her efforts to expand access to MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program for low-income individuals, and her response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maine was largely spared the pain of the pandemic that hit other states and has outperformed others on its vaccine rollout.

“You deserve every ounce of hard-won progress we have achieved, and you have earned all the progress yet to come,” Mills said Tuesday.

Maine Republican Party Chair Demi Kouzounas blasted Mills in a Tuesday morning statement, specifically targeting her use of emergency powers to move schools to remote learning and restrict business operations to curb the spread of the virus in the early weeks of the pandemic.

“The choice between Gov. Mills’ failed policies and Gov. LePage’s successful policies couldn’t be more clear,” Kouzounas said. “Gov. LePage will bring needed, welcome change in our state. He’ll help our economy grow and flourish rather than punishing small businesses.”

With the only other prominent contender, Tom Saviello, dropping out of the running last month after teasing a run in 2021, it’s increasingly looking as though the governor’s race will come down between Mills and LePage. It would be the first race without a major third-party contender since 1982. At least three third-party candidates are vying for the November ballot.

The showdown won’t be the first between Mills and LePage, who moved back to Maine from Florida last year to lay the ground for his run. As attorney general under LePage, the two frequently feuded.