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Senate rejects Gov. LePage nominee to University of Maine System board Susan Dench

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AUGUSTA, Maine — The state Senate rejected one of Republican Gov. Paul LePage's nominees to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees on Tuesday, prompting accusations that some Democratic legislators were using the vote to score political points.

The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected Susan Dench's nomination by a 17-15 vote along party lines, while approving 50 other LePage nominations to various state boards and commissions.

Dench is president of the Informed Women's Network, a conservative advocacy group, and previously worked in marketing.

Democrats and other women's groups have criticized Dench for her comments on gender issues on a conservative blog she wrote for the Bangor Daily News. She has raised concerns about the "feminizing" of schools and has written that "school boys should be taught to grow into real men, not women."

A University of Southern Maine professor has accused Dench of plagiarizing one her posts, which Dench has denied.

LePage blasted Democrats after the vote, saying the decision to reject her nomination was based solely on "vitriolic partisan politics."

"This appalling treatment of a Maine woman not only shows the closed-mindedness and viciousness of liberals in Augusta, but will also have a chilling effect on our ability to attract quality people for public service," he said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers also warned that Dench's rejection would send a bad message that the state doesn't tolerate those with other views.

Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Anne Haskell said she believes in embracing a diversity of opinions but said Dench's views are "not just not in the mainstream, but are way to one side."

Dench said she was disappointed with the vote and believed her marketing experience would've benefited the seven-campus University of Maine System the board governs. She said Democrats were merely looking to "put a stick in the eye of Governor LePage."

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