The Wabanaki Alliance will not endorse any candidate in the Maine governor's race.
This photo combination shows Republican candidate Paul LePage, left, and Democratic incumbent Janet Mills. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The Wabanaki Alliance said that it will not endorse a gubernatorial candidate for Maine.

The tribes have been working with lawmakers to amend the 1980 Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act to allow Maine’s four Wabanaki tribes to have the same rights, privileges and powers as other federally recognized tribes. During the last legislative session lawmakers were close to passing a bill that would do so, but the bill failed to get the votes needed in the House and Senate to protect it from a veto from Gov. Janet Mills, who opposed the measure.

Zeke Crofton-Macdonald, the ambassador for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said the hot race between Mills and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage makes an endorsement risky.

“Understanding that a governorship under LePage could be just as, or more difficult, our best option is to remain silent,” he said.

The Wabanaki Alliance said it has endorsed candidates running for the Legislature based on their support of the tribes’ legislative priorities. The Alliance surveyed non-incumbent candidates about tribal issues as well. The roster is largely made up of Democrats, with a handful of Republicans and independents.

The last legislative session saw the passage of a bill that would give the tribes rights to mobile sports betting. The Wabanaki Alliance supported that measure but says tribal sovereignty is still its biggest priority.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.