Late GOP withdrawals give Maine Democrats an advantage in legislative races

Democrats’ efforts to keep their majority in the Maine House of Representatives through the November elections are helped by the fact that at least 11 Democrats are running unopposed, compared with four unopposed Republican House candidates. The Maine secretary of state’s office has said another Republican candidate also intends to withdraw but hasn’t yet submitted paperwork to do so.

The deadline for candidates to withdraw and have their names deleted from the November ballot is Aug. 30. It is too late for parties to add replacement candidates. That means the match-ups for Maine’s 186 legislative races are essentially set.

Candidates in Maine’s recognized political parties — Democrat, Republican and Green Independent this year, with Libertarian likely to join the list for future elections — had until March 15 to submit nomination papers. Many of those candidates were placeholders as party leaders scurried to recruit replacements. They had until late July to complete that process.

Candidates who identify as independent or unenrolled had until June 1 to submit nomination papers.

In recent weeks, a number of candidates have notified the secretary of state’s office that they wish to have their names removed from the ballot. Among them is Byron Watson, a replacement candidate selected last month by the Cumberland County Republican caucus to run against incumbent Democrat Joyce McCreight in House District 51.

The balance of power in the House of Representatives is currently 78 Democrats, 69 Republicans and four independents.

The following Democratic House candidates are unopposed, according to the secretary of state’s office:

  • For House District 31 in South Portland, Democrat Lois Reckitt is unopposed. That seat is currently held by Democratic Rep. Terry Morrison.
  • For House District 32 in South Portland, incumbent Democratic Rep. Scott Hamann is unopposed.
  • For House District 34 in the Westbrook area, incumbent Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine is unopposed.
  • For House District 36 in Portland, incumbent Democratic Rep. Denise Harlow is unopposed.
  • For House District 50 in Brunswick, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ralph Tucker is unopposed.
  • For House District 51 in Harpswell, incumbent Democratic Rep. Joyce McCreight is unopposed.
  • In House District 84 in Hallowell, incumbent Democratic Rep. Charlotte Warren is unopposed.
  • In House District 85 in Augusta, incumbent Democratic Rep. Donna Doore is unopposed.
  • In House District 134 in Deer Isle, incumbent Democratic Rep. Walter Kumiega is unopposed.
  • In House District 150 in Sinclair, incumbent Democratic Rep. Roland Martin is unopposed.
  • In House District 151 in Eagle Lake, incumbent Democratic Rep. John Martin is unopposed.

The following Republican House candidates are unopposed: 

  • For House District 25 in the Windham area, incumbent Republican Rep. Patrick Corey is unopposed.
  • In House District 86 in Augusta, incumbent Republican Rep. Matthew Pouliot is unopposed.
  • In House District 100 in Newport, incumbent Republican Rep. Kenneth Fredette, the House minority leader, is unopposed.
  • In House District 119 in Guilford, incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Stearns is unopposed.

There are also three House districts where independents are running against Republicans and there is no Democratic candidate: 

  • In House District 69 in Harrison, incumbent Republican Rep. Phyllis Ginzler faces a challenge from independent Walter Riseman.
  • In House District 82 in Monmouth, incumbent Republican Rep. Randall Adam Greenwood faces a challenge from independent Kent Ackley.
  • In House District 89 in Boothbay Harbor, incumbent Republican Rep. Stephanie Hawke faces a challenge from independent Wendy Wolf.

One Democratic incumbent in the House is being challenged by an independent in a race in which the Republicans have not fielded a candidate.

  • In House District 12 in Biddeford, incumbent Democrat Rep. Martin Grohman faces a challenge from independent Matthew Lauzon.

In the Maine Senate, there are two uncontested races, one for each major party, and two races with only one major-party candidate: 

  • Sen. Kimberly Rosen, R-Bucksport, and Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, are both unopposed.
  • There are two incumbents facing challenges from independents. In Senate District 10 in Penobscot County, incumbent Republican Sen. Andre Cushing, the assistant Senate majority leader, is being challenged by independent Dennis Marble. In Senate District 29 in Cumberland County, incumbent Democratic Sen. Rebecca Millett faces a challenge from independent Martha MacAuslan.

Approximately 10 percent of Maine House races this year are uncontested, which compares favorably with national data. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, nearly one-third of races in the 46 states where legislative elections were held in 2014 were uncontested. That marked the highest percentage since 2000.

In Maine, the number of unopposed candidates this year is on par with 2014, when there were 16 uncontested House races.

There were eight and six uncontested legislative races in 2010 and 2012, respectively, all but one of which, a Senate seat in 2010, were House races.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.