A.J. Higgins

State House Bureau Chief

A.J. came to MPBN in August 2007 after a recent stint as a staff writer for Blethen Maine Newspapers, where his work for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta also appeared in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Prior to joining the Kennebec Journal, Higgins served for 13 years as Political Editor and State House Bureau Chief for the Bangor Daily News.

He began working for the BDN in 1972 while still a senior at Bangor High School when his first job was casting the lead plates for the printing presses in the paper’s stereotype department. In the ensuing 34 years, Higgins moved up to the Editorial Department where he quickly immersed himself in nearly every facet of news reporting, editing and photography.

In addition to his extensive coverage in the greater Bangor area, he also worked in the paper’s Presque Isle Bureau and was named bureau chief of the paper’s Hancock County operations in Ellsworth in 1988. He was assigned to the State House in 1993.

A.J. resides in Manchester with his wife, Diane.


Your Vote 2014
5:42 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Maine Gov. LePage Does an About-Face on Debates

Mike Michaud discusses the debate situation at a press conference Tuesday in Portland.
Credit Susan Sharon / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - After doubling down on a threat to avoid all gubernatorial debates, Republican Gov. Paul LePage abruptly did an about-face and confirmed that he would be attending such a function next month. The debate saga was thrust into the limelight again Tuesday when LePage confirmed that he would not debate his Democratic opponent, Mike Michaud, unless Michaud denounced a third-party's TV ad. But a few hours later, LePage's position had evolved.

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Your Vote 2014
12:31 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

LePage Confirms He Won't Debate Michaud

AUGUSTA, Maine - After hinting yesterday that he might not participate in any gubernatorial debates, Republican Gov. Paul LePage made it official today that he will not debate Democratic challenger, Congressman Mike Michaud until Michaud admits that a third-party political ad falsely misstates the governor's definitions of welfare.

The ad, from an outside group, accuses LePage of considering Social Security as a form of welfare. The governor staunchly denies that characterization and says that debates with Michaud are off until the Democrat denounces the ad.

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Your Vote 2014
4:59 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Maine Democrats Go On the Offensive on Jobs

Democratic Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe addresses a jobs rally at the State House.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Democratic legislative candidates rallied at the State House today and promised to deliver jobs that Gov. Paul LePage and minority Republicans refused to support earlier this year. The Democrats cited a recent report that concluded Maine continues to lag behind the rest of the country in job recovery in the post-recession. Republicans disputed the job claims, saying Democrats were unwilling to work with Republicans in the last legislative session on job creation proposals.


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Your Vote 2014
5:29 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Rap Video of Michaud Creates Political Firestorm

Mike Michaud at a campaign event in November
Credit Ed Morin / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Just when you thought the race for governor might return its focus back to the issues, a flap being spread on social media has exploded onto center stage - at least for today. The ingredients include a video with some off-color rap lyrics, the Michaud for Governor Campaign and the Maine Republican Party, all mixed and churned by Twitter.

Tom Porter: "A.J. Higgins, MPBN's state house bureau chief, is with us this afternoon to help us sort it all out. Good afternoon, A.J."
A.J. Higgins: "Hi Tom, always a pleasure."

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LePage Vacation Policy
4:54 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Rivals Blast LePage Decision to Grant More Vacation Time to Political Appointees

Gov. Paul LePage.
Credit File photo: Mal Leary / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Gov. Paul LePage is defending a little-known unilateral decision he made earlier this year to grant more paid vacation time to about 55 of his political appointees. The workers, hired by the executive branch, hold positions ranging from secretary to department commissioner. LePage says the policy is needed to retain good employees who take pay cuts to work in state government. But state workers and other critics say the governor's action smacks of elitism.  


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Natural gas expansion
5:49 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Maine Officials Cheer Plans for $3 Billion Natural Gas Expansion

Two of the region's largest energy firms have announced plans to expand natural gas in Maine and New England as a way to eliminate shortages during the winter months. Spectra Energy Corp. and Northeast Utilities will partner for the $3 billion project that is expected begin operation in November 2018.  


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Your Vote 2014
5:48 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Democrat Michaud Unveils 10-Point Health Care Plan

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud unveils his health care plan at a Portland news conference.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Mike Michaud says Mainers must oppose Gov. Paul LePage's efforts to balance the state budget by siphoning off funding from a program that targets tobacco and other substance abuse. In discussing his 10-point "Plan for a Healthier Maine," the Democratic candidate said he would protect the Fund for a Healthy Maine, which pays for smoking cessation, prenatal home health visits and child care.

Michaud's opponents say LePage's priorities for the fund provide health solutions for the state's neediest residents.

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Your Vote 2014
5:37 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

LePage Abruptly Backs Out of Energy Forum at Last Minute

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler (left, with back to camera) confers with energy conference officials after Gov. Paul LePage backs out of the forum.
Credit A.J. Higgins / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Nearly 300 industry representatives and interested voters gathered at the University of Southern Maine today for what was supposed to be a chance to compare the energy policies of all three gubernatorial candidates. But Republican Gov. Paul LePage backed out before the forum could even get underway. The governor objected to a format change in the program, leaving his two opponents to carry on without him.

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Understaffed Jail
5:43 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

York County Sheriff: Officers' Indictments Leave Jail Woefully Understaffed

ALFRED, Maine - The York County Jail wants to temporarily shut down one of its prisoner housing areas because it doesn't have enough corrections officers to safely staff the facility. Sheriff Maurice Ouellette told the state Board of Corrections today that the recent indictment of four current and three former corrections officers for allegedly smuggling contraband to prisoners has left him woefully understaffed.


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Your Vote 2014
5:35 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Rival Maine Advocacy Groups Both Seeking AG Investigation

Two rival advocacy groups are asking the Maine Attorney General's Office to investigate a telephone conference call involving several organizations that share an interest in immigration issues. The Maine Heritage Policy Center claims the Maine People's Alliance and other groups may have violated laws restricting the political activities of non-profits.

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