June 17, 2022

Primary Round-Up

Primary Round-Up

As you are probably aware, primary elections in Maine took place on Tuesday, June 14, and there were a handful that could be significant to the general election outcome in November.

Congressional Primary

The Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District garnered some recent interest when some Republican party officials expressed support in the media for Liz Caruso rather than the party favorite and previous Congressman, Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin had refused to debate Caruso and had raised over $2 million compared to Caruso’s $36,000, but some of her groundswell of “anti-elite” support, and an appearance on Tucker Carlson, made the race appear more interesting. However, Poliquin handily won the race with over 60% of the votes.

Thus, there will be a rematch between Poliquin and current two-term Congressman Jared Golden. So far public polling of this race shows Golden with a slight lead and positive favorability ratings among Democrats and Unenrolled (independents) and even small but significant numbers of Republicans. However, there are enough undecideds in these polls to make it clear the race will still be hard fought and difficult for both candidates.

Unenrolled candidate, Tiffany Bond, has also, once again, qualified to be on the general election ballot. While Bond is very unlikely to raise any significant funding nor garner a large number of votes, she does force the election to be decided using the ranked choice method. This is the same method that led to Golden winning in 2018. In that race Poliquin had a plurality of the votes in the first round, but after the 3rd and 4th place candidates 2nd choices were counted, it was clear that Golden had received the support of more than 50% of the voters in that election. While Golden won re-lection in 2020 with a significant majority of the electorate, it is entirely possible that this race will depend on Tiffany Bond’s voters’ 2nd choices.

State Legislative Primaries

There were six State Senate primaries, but the most significant Senate race was the Special Election in Senate District 7, representing most of Hancock County. This race, between current State Rep. Nicole Grohoski and previous State Senator and State Rep. Brian Langley, was seen as a possible test of party favorability looking towards the general election. Democrats far outspent the Republicans in the race and were far more effective at getting Democrats to vote absentee. Grohoski defeated Langley with over 60% of the vote. These same candidates will now face off again in the general election for a full 2 year term in November. Grohoski’s win gives her some momentum, but with the hotly contested Gubernatorial and Congressional races bringing more voters out, and Langley’s better name recognition among unenrolled voters, who generally do not come out to vote in primary elections unless there is a significant municipal issue in their town, will make this a targeted race again for both parties.

There were three Republican Senate primaries in Senate Districts 8, 10 and 16. Senate District 8 is a reliably Democratic district, and the two Republican candidates were relative unknowns. Eric Rojo will move onto the general election. Senate District 10 may be a more competitive race in November, but leans Republican and the better known Republican candidate, current House member Peter Lyford won his primary. Senate District 16, which centers around Waterville and Winslow, has gone back and forth between the parties when it has been an open seat.  There were three Republican candidates, with one of them, current House member, Mike Perkins, winning a plurality of the vote, but not a majority. Thus the Secretary of State’s office counted the third place candidate’s 2nd choice votes on Thursday, June 16, 2022 and Perkins prevailed. He is likely the best candidate to keep this seat for Republicans, but it will probably be a target for both parties in November.

There were three Democratic primaries in Senate Districts 8, 13 and 27. Senate District 8, with large numbers of voters in Orono and Old Town, is reliably Democratic. Mike Tipping, the communications director for the progressive Maine People’s Alliance, won this primary. Senate President Jackson and other Democratic Senate leadership had already endorsed a different candidate before Tipping announced his candidacy. They also openly opposed or called into question some of Tippings’ endorsement claims. Tipping will win in November, but may have a difficult relationship with his caucus leadership. 

Senate District 13, Lincoln County, is another seat that is almost always a target for both parties and has gone back and forth several times over the past 30 plus years. It is an open seat this year after the current State Senator, progressive activist Chloe Maxmin, chose not to run for re-election after winning her first term in 2020. The Democratic candidate who won her primary with 66% of the vote was Cameron Reny. She is definitely the stronger of the two Democratic candidates in the general election given her last name and her husband’s connection to the popular chain of Reny’s discount stores throughout Maine.    

The final Democratic Senate primary was in Portland Senate District 27. City Councilor Jill Duson easily won this election and will easily win her general election in this reliably Democratic seat. Duson has worked as a lobbyist, served as a member of various Democratic administrations in Augusta for decades, and also served as a Portland City Councilor.

There were twenty-six primaries in the House of Representatives. In almost all cases, the results of these primaries will not be instrumental in the likelihood of one party or another winning in November. Seventeen of these were Republican primaries and nine were Democratic. Of the Democratic races, at least four candidates are very well known to Preti and we have well established positive relations already in place. They will also very likely be elected in November.

Of the Republican primaries, John Andrews, who won his 3 way primary in House District 79, is a returning incumbent, and in House District 92 both candidates were known to us. We have productive established relationships with both Andrews and Steve Wood, the winner in District 92. Andrews is very likely to prevail in November and Wood is unopposed in November.

As in every election cycle, the Preti team will be reaching out to the candidates with whom we are not yet familiar and paying close attention to the competitive races as we move towards the general election in November. We will be updating you on these races as we move forward and you should not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about candidates and where they may stand on your issues.