November 4, 2020 Article

Legislative Alert: 2020 Election and State House Update

(Current as of 11/4/20 at 2:30 PM EST)

Presidential

Maine is one of two states in the country that splits its electoral votes. As in 2016, this turned Maine’s more rural 2nd Congressional District into a key target on the electoral map. In 2016, while Trump lost statewide and in the 1st Congressional District, he won handily in the 2nd Congressional District. This was a first in Maine's history. President Trump and his surrogates once again visited the 2nd CD multiple times in 2020. While Biden did not personally visit the 2nd CD, he did send his wife and other surrogates to both the 1st and 2nd CDs.

Maine is now the most unique state this election cycle because the Presidential race in Maine is a ranked choice race. The race was expected to be very close in the 2nd CD with public polls showing Biden with a only a slim lead. Biden was expected to win statewide and the 1st CD with over 50% of the vote, but it was entirely possible that the one Electoral vote in the 2nd CD would be decided by the ranked choice instant runoff. Unless the still pending results end with Trump dipping below 50% in the 2nd CD, ranked choice voting will not be used. At this time, it appears Biden will receive 3 of Maine’s electoral votes and Trump 1, in a repeat of the 2016 election.

Final Margin Statewide: Biden - D 53.2%, Trump – 44%, De La Fuente – A 0.2%, Hawkins - G  1%, Jorgensen - L 1.7%, (93% of precincts reporting)

Congressional District 1: Biden - D 60%, Trump – 37.2% (97% of precincts reporting)

Congressional District 2: Biden - D 44.9%, Trump – 52.2% (92% of precincts reporting)

U.S. Senate

Fourth term Republican incumbent U.S. Senator Susan Collins has successfully defended her seat once again, as Democratic candidate and current Speaker of the House Sara Gideon has conceded. Collins had been trailing in the public polls throughout the summer and fall, although usually within the margin of error. Because the final result for Collins was just above 50%, the race did not need to be decided through Maine's first-in-the-nation ranked choice instant runoff system. Recent polling of the other candidates, Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn, had suggested that Rep. Gideon was favored as the second choice of both of their supporters.

U.S. Senate: Collins R - 51%, Gideon D – 42.5%, Linn – U 1.7%, Savage – U 4.9% (93% of precincts reporting)

Congressional District 1

Incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree won re-election over Republican challenger Jay Allen to secure her sixth consecutive term in Maine’s more densely populated first district.

Final Margin: Allen - R 38.6%, Pingree - D 61.4% (97% of precincts reporting)

Congressional District 2

Incumbent Democratic Congressman Jared Golden, who beat Republican incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin in 2018 in Maine's first election with ranked choice voting in place and invoked, won handily in his race against Republican former state legislator Dale Crafts. Many of us were surprised that polls showed Golden with a consistent and impressive lead over Crafts since this summer. This had been expected to be a target for Congressional Republicans to take back a Congressional seat, but it appears that Crafts’ lack of name recognition and lackluster fundraising, plus Golden's ability to release almost entirely positive advertising, made the race much less competitive than expected.

Final Margin: Crafts - R 46.8%, Golden - D 53.2% (92% of precincts reporting)

Maine State Senate

The Maine Senate will remain in Democratic control with a 22-13 split. Incumbents from both parties lost, and Democrats picked up an open seat that had been held by the Republicans. It is expected that Democratic Leadership will remain the same for the new session. Senator Troy Jackson will remain Senate President, Senator Nate Libby will remain as Senate Majority Leader and Senator Eloise Vitelli will remain Assistant Majority Leader. Senator Cathy Breen will remain as Senate Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Two Democratic Senators, representing Portland, did not have opponents.

The Senate Republicans will hold leadership elections on November 10th. Current Republican Leader, Senator Dana Dow, lost his re-lection bid, but current Assistant Leader, Senator Jeff Timberlake, is expected to remain in leadership. Senator Matt Pouliot has expressed an interest in leadership, and newly elected and returning Senator Rick Bennett could step up if recruited to do so. Senator Bennett previously served as Senate President and as the Republican Senate Leader.

Votes that require a 2/3rd vote of the body will still require Republican support. This includes veto overrides, bonds and emergency bills.

Breakdown of 130th (2021) Maine Senate: Democrats - 22, Republicans - 13

KEY SENATE RACES:

SD 2 - Two-term incumbent Michael Carpenter had won this Republican leaning Aroostook County Senate Seat by slim margins in the previous two election cycles. This year he was challenged by outgoing House Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart. Stewart is popular and worked hard to be out and about in the community pre-COVID. Carpenter has served as Attorney General and is well known in his community, but he was considered the most likely incumbent in either party to lose his seat. Stewart was able to convincingly pick up this seat for the Republicans.

Current Margin: Carpenter - D 44.9%, Stewart - R 55.1% (74.4% precincts reporting)

SD 7 - First term incumbent Democratic Senator Louie Luchini faced a serious challenge from the most recently termed out Republican Senator who held this Hancock County seat for 4 terms, Brian Langley. Senator Luchini served in the House representing Ellsworth for 4 terms before he and Langley were both termed out of their respective offices. The fact that Luchini is incredibly popular in Ellsworth, the most populous municipality in the district, and a swing house district, made this race very difficult for Langley. The district includes some of the inland towns of Hancock County but also the entire Blue Hill peninsula and Mount Desert Island. While the first area is very Republican, the latter two areas, both more populous than the first, are very Democratic. Ultimately Luchini's popularity and the solid Democratic base on the coast were insurmountable for Langley.

Current Margin: Langley - R 44.68%, Luchini - D 55.32% (94% of precincts reporting)

SD 11 - The Waldo County Senate seat became open again this year when first term Democratic Senator Erin Herbig chose to not run for re-election and took the position of City Manager in her home town of Belfast. This district has been held mostly by Republicans over the past twenty years but is becoming more Democratic, especially in the coastal communities. Neither the Democratic candidate, Chip Curry, nor the Republican candidate, Duncan Milne, have served in public office. This race was a real unknown and targeted by both parties, but Curry has been able to keep it in the Democratic column.

Current Margin: Curry - D 54.5%, Milne - R 45.5% ( 93% of precincts reporting)

SD 13 - Incumbent Senator and Republican Leader Dana Dow faced a serious challenge from first term State Representative Chloe Maxmin. This Lincoln County Senate seat has swung back and forth between the parties for over 20 years and Senator Dow has lost this seat previously and then taken it back from the same man who unseated him. Maxmin is a young candidate who motivated a great deal of excitement among her supporters and was very active on social media and organizing phone banks given that canvassing was mostly not an option at this time. Dow was seen as the most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senator. Senator Dow was, once again, unable to retain the seat. This is a pick-up for the Democrats.

Final Margin: Dow - R 48.87%, Maxmin – D 51.13% (100% of precincts reporting)

SD 15 - Incumbent Republican Senator Matt Pouliot became an unexpected target race to watch in the last few weeks before the election. This Augusta Senate District is another that has changed parties several times, but only when popular incumbents have been termed out. This year, the enthusiasm of the Democratic Candidate, Kalie Hess, the national partisan fervor, and the decision by the Maine State Employees Union to target Senator Pouliout for defeat, made this a race to watch. Ultimately, the popularity of 3 term House member and one term Senator, Matt Pouliot, secured his re-election to a second term handily.

Final Margin: Hess - D 42.44%, Pouliot - R 57.55% (100% of precincts reporting)

SD 20 - Incumbent Democratic Senator Ned Claxton only narrowly won this Auburn centered seat in 2018. This, plus the reality that this seat has changed parties several times in the past two decades, and Claxton is just finishing his first term, led Democrats and Democratic allies to spend more here for incumbent protection than in any other race this year. The Republican candidate, Matthew Leonard is an antivaccine activist while Claxton is a doctor who sits on the Health and Human Services Committee. This race is somewhat of a proxy vote in reaction to the recent referendum and recent passage of the new vaccine requirements in the State Legislature. The district voted more decisively Democratic in this race.

Final Margin: Claxton - D 56.35%, Leonard - R 43.65% ( 100% of precincts reporting)

SD 30 - First term Democratic Senator Linda Sanborn did not run for re-election and this seat is always a hard fought race year after year. Neither Democrat Stacy Brenner of Scarborough, nor Republican Sara Rivard have held elective office and both parties poured resources into the race. In a close race Brenner was able to retain the seat for the Democratic Caucus.

Final Margin: Brenner – D 53.8%, Rivard - R 46.2% ( 100% of precincts reporting)

SD 34 - First term Republican Senator Bob Foley did not run for re-election in this Republican leaning York County seat. This became a targeted race for both parties due to the high quality and popularity of both Republican candidate Michael Pardue and Democratic candidate Joseph Rafferty. Ultimately Rafferty was able to give the Democrats another pick-up.

Final Margin: Pardue – R 48.3%, Rafferty – D 51.7% (100% of precincts reporting)

Maine House of Representatives

House Democrats will maintain control but did lose several seats, some of which were quite unexpected. There were 23 House Democrats with no opponent, including 7 running for the first time. House Democrats will make their leadership decisions on November 12th and there are many potential candidates for these positions. At this time the only, and most likely, Speaker of the House candidate is current Assistant Majority Leader Ryan Fecteau, who had no challenger in his House race. House Democrats who have expressed an interest in the House Majority Leader position include Seth Berry, Michael Brennan, Michelle Dunphy, Denise Tepler, and Charlotte Warren. House Democrats who have expressed an interest in the Majority Whip position include Lori Gramlich and Michelle Meyer.

There are 4 unenrolled House members who have been elected, 3 of whom lean towards the Democratic Caucus and one whom is currently unknown.

House Republicans won at least 9 Democratically held seats and will vote for leadership on November 5th. There were 10 House Republicans with no opponent including two running for the first time. Rep. Kathleen Dillingham is likely to remain the House Republican Leader, but she may be challenged. Other Republicans who have signaled a potential interest leadership are Billy Bob Faulkingham, Justin Fecteau, Joshua Morris, Michael Perkins, Heidi Sampson and Joel Stetkis.

Votes that require a 2/3rd vote of the body will still require Republican support. This includes veto overrides, bonds and emergency bills.

Breakdown of 130th (2021) Maine House of Representatives: Democrats – 80 - 82, Republicans – 65-67, Unenrolled - 4

KEY HOUSE RACES:

HD 7 - Democratic incumbent Daniel Hobbs was unable to retain this conservative leaning seat, Republican Tim Roche will be the new State Representative for this Wells based seat.

Final Margin: Hobbs - D 48.4%, Roche - R 51.6% ( 100% of precincts reporting)

HD 9 - Democratic incumbent House member Diane Denk did not run for re-election. Republican Stedman Seavey who has previously held the Kennebunkport seat ran against newcomer Traci Gere. Gere was able to keep the seat for the Democrats.

Current Margin: Gere - D 58.3%, Seavey - R 41.7% (80% of precincts reporting)

HD 10 – First Term incumbent Democrat Henry Ingwersen of Arundel was unable to retain this Republican leaning seat for the Democrats. He lost to returning State Representative Wayne Parry.

Current Margin: Ingwersen – D 49.8%, Parry – R 50.2% (66% of precincts reporting)

HD 16 - Republican turned Unenrolled House member Don Marean was termed out of this seat based in Buxton. This is a Republican leaning district with both Republican Nathan Carlow, and Democrat David Durrell not having served before. Carlow was able to return this traditionally Republican seat to his caucus.

Final Margin: Carlow - R 51.8%, Durrell - D 48.2% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 29 – First term incumbent Democratic Representative Shawn Babine lost this Scarborough race in a three way contest. Unenrolled candidate Warren prevailed by about 250 votes.

Final Margin: Babine- D 34.3%, Rosenblatt – R 27.6, Warren- U 38% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 58 - First term incumbent Democratic Representative Jim Handy was surprisingly unseated from this traditionally Democratic seat in Lewiston. Jonathan Conner picked this seat up for the Republicans.

Final Margin: Connor- R 50.8%, Handy – D 49.2% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 64 - Two term Democratic incumbent Bettyanne Sheets is another Auburn candidate with a Republican opponent, Laurel Libby, motivated by the anti-vaccination movement. Sheets was unable to keep this seat so this is another pick-up for the Republicans.

Final Margin: Libby - R 54.6 %, Sheets - D 45.4 % (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 74 – Two term incumbent Democratic Representative Tina Riley surprisingly lost her traditionally Democratic seat centered in the mill towns of Jay and Livermore. Her opponent, Republican Sheila Lyman, is the sister of Republican Senator Jeff Timberlake. This is another pick-up for the Republicans.

Current Margin: Lyman – R 55.5%, Riley – D 44.5% (66.7% of precincts reporting)

HD 76 – This Belgrade centered seat became an open seat when Republican Dennis Keschl chose not to run for re-election. Results were late coming in but the Republicans have retained the seat.

Final Margin: Emery - D 47.2%, Newman - R 52.8% (83.3% precincts reporting)

HD 78 – Democratic Representative Catherine Nadeau of Winslow was termed out of office this year. She will be replaced by the Republican candidate who picked this seat up for the Republicans. Her name is…Cathy Nadeau.

Current Margin: Caron – D 38.5%, Nadeau – R 61.5% (50% of precincts reporting)

HD 82 - Unenrolled incumbent Kent Ackley of Monmouth, had a rematch with Republican Randall Greenwood, the incumbent he beat in the last election. Ackley has worked to organize the elected unenrolled candidates as a caucus of its own and chooses to not actively caucus with the Democrats, but he almost always votes with the Democrats on the issues. This time Greenwood prevailed and he returns this seat to the Republicans.

Final Margin: Ackley - U 49.4 %, Greenwood- R 50.6 % (100% precincts reporting)

HD 88 – This northern Lincoln County seat became an open set when Rep. Chloe Maxmin decide to run for Senate. It has become a pick-up for the Republicans.

Final Margin: Hamilton - D 46.3%, Lemelin - R 53.7% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 89 - First term Democratic incumbent Holly Stover had a rematch with Republican Stephanie Hawkes whom she had unseated in the previous election in this Boothbay peninsula seat. Stover defeated Hawke once again in a close race.

Current Margin: Hawke - R 44.9%, Stover - D 55.1% (66.7% of precincts reporting)

HD 96 - First term incumbent Democrat Paige Ziegler won a difficult swing seat in 2018. His race with Republican Katrina Smith was a target for a pick up for the Republicans. He has narrowly won re-election by 42 votes. A recount is possible in this Lincolnville based seat.

Final Margin: Smith - R 50%, Ziegler - D 50% (100% precincts reporting)

HD 107 – Two term Democratic incumbent Betty Ann Austin was unable to keep this last holdout for Democrats in Somerset County. She lost her Skowhegan seat to Republican Jennifer Poirier in anther pick-up for the Republicans.

Final Margin: Austin - D 48%, Poirior - R 52% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 120 – Three term incumbent once Republican, now Unenrolled, Representative Norm Higgins was unable to keep this conservative Dover-Foxcroft seat in a race against both Democrat Richard Evans and Republican Chad Perkins. The splitting of the conservative votes has led Evans to win the race in the only pick-up for Democrats.

Final Margin: Evans – D 35.7%, Higgins – U 31.1%, Perkins – R 33.3% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 143 – Republican Peggy Stanley has prevailed in the traditionally Democratic seat in Millinocket previously held by Steve Stanley. She beat Democrat Charlie Pray who had served in the State Senate several years ago. This is another pick-up for the Republicans.

Final Margin: Pray D 48.3%, Stanley R 51.7% (100% of precincts reporting)

HD 147 – This Presque Isle seat became open when Republican Trey Stewart chose to run for the Senate seat. The Republican is Joseph Underwood and the Democrat is Lillie Lavedo. The results were late coming but the Republicans have retained the seat.

Final Margin: Lavado D 45.4%, Underwood R 54.6% (100% of precincts reporting)

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.  We will update this information as it becomes available and provide regular updated memos.

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