Public advocate, former lawmaker Barry Hobbins is retiring

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Barry Hobbins, Maine’s public advocate and a former longtime state lawmaker, will retire when his term ends in June.

The Democrat, who served a combined 13 terms as a state senator and representative starting in 1972, announced his retirement Thursday, the Portland Press Herald reported.

“At age 70, I can honestly say that I’ve given it absolutely everything I had,” Hobbins said in a statement.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage appointed Hobbins to be public advocate in 2017, something colleagues said was a testament to Hobbins’ connections across the aisle.

“There aren’t too many Democratic legislators who could pull that off,” state Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, told the newspaper. “It stunned a lot of people to see that happen, and it goes back to who Barry is.”

Hobbins is a lawyer, was a top Democratic fundraiser and worked as a lobbyist for cellular companies in the 1990s.

As public advocate, he backed a proposed power line that would bring hydropower from Canada to New England’s electric grid. He negotiated incentives worth $258 million for the state.

“Barry was a great advocate for the underdog his whole life,” state Sen. Mark Lawrence told the newspaper.

U.S. Sen. Angus King said in a statement that he has known Hobbins for 50 years “and can’t imagine the public service scene in Maine without his presence.”