Mills defends public safety chief pick as some raise concern

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Democratic Gov. Janet Mills is defending her pick for public safety commissioner as a former Republican lawmaker and sportsman's group raise concerns over his gun control views.

Mills said Thursday former Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck is "highly qualified" to serve as public safety commissioner. Sauschuck faces a hearing and a Senate vote.

Former state senator and U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey calls Sauschuck an "anti-gun" activist. Sportsman's Alliance of Maine head David Trahan says Sauschuck's nomination comes amid "a wave" of gun control legislation.

Sauschuck supported a 2016 referendum for universal background checks for gun sales and transfers. He served on a gun safety coalition board and voiced concern over Maine's open-carry law and a concealed-carry law championed by Brakey.

A Portland city spokeswoman declined comment on Sauschuck's behalf.