Virginia decided a tied election in a drawing. Here’s what would happen in Maine

Good morning from Augusta. Last week, Virginia decided a crucial, tied legislative election with a random drawing that a Republican won. That wouldn’t happen in Maine — except in one kind of election.

Maine law sets out four different ways to break ties in four types of elections. And they would be doozies. Tied primary elections are the only ones decided “by lot,” as in Virginia. If there’s a tie in the gubernatorial or presidential races, the governor would have to call in the Legislature for a special session and both chambers would choose one of the two candidates by a collective vote of members. In a legislative or congressional general election, the tied candidates go to a special runoff election. In a referendum campaign, the “no” side wins if the vote is tied.

But we’re not sure if this set of laws has been tested in Maine. The closest that Maine has come to an electoral tie in recent history was in a 2008 Democratic primary for a House of Representatives seat in Yarmouth. The official Election Day tally found that Melissa Walsh Innes and Kimberly McLaughlin were tied at 485 votes apiece. But a recount put Innes up 484-482. It went to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which added another three votes to the overall tally but still declared Innes the winner, 485-484. The Maine Law and Legislative Library couldn’t find a record of another tie in research for the Bangor Daily News on Friday. But ties are extremely rare. A 2001 study said only one of a set of nearly 17,000 state and federal elections between 1898 and 1992 was decided by one vote.

What’s the state of the State of the State?

Legislative leaders have invited Gov. Paul LePage to deliver the final State of the State speech of his governorship. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the House of Representatives. LePage’s office has not confirmed the governor will be there. In 2016, LePage refused to give the speech in person and instead sent a letter. LePage returned to the podium in 2017 and used the speech to attack liberal politicians and organizations. We’ll keep you posted about the speech but you might want to keep open the evening before Valentine’s Day.

Moderate GOP state senator won’t run for re-election

A release from the Maine Senate Republican Campaign Committee broke the news that Sen. Joyce Maker, R-Calais, wouldn’t run for re-election in 2018. It also broke the news that former Calais Mayor Marianne Moore plans to run as a Republican to replace her. Maker served for three terms in the House of Representatives before going to the Senate in 2016. She was a moderate voice in both chambers. Moore also ran to replace Maker in the House in 2016, but lost narrowly to Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais. No Democrat is running yet for the Senate seat.

Former Portland mayor eyes return to Legislature

Veteran progressive leader Mike Brennan has filed to run as a Democrat in House District 36. Brennan, who won Portland’s first mayoral election decided by ranked-choice voting before losing a re-election bid to Ethan Strimling, apparently sees a return to the Legislature as his next political move. He represented Portland in the Maine House from 1992 to 2000, and later served in the Maine Senate. He — and Strimling, among others — lost to Chellie Pingree in the 2008 Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District. He seeks to succeed Rep. Denise Harlow, an independent who left the Democratic Party last year. Maine’s term limits law prevents Harlow from seeking re-election.

Reading list

  • Three Republican legislative leaders are running against each other. Will the 2018 session be salty? Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, are running to replace the term-limited Gov. Paul LePage. One lawmaker who has to deal with all three said “I don’t see how it doesn’t” add a new dynamic to the 2018 session.
  • LePage wants to have another legislative fight over showing identification to vote. The governor said in last week’s radio address that he will propose a new bill this year, even though at least 10 attempts have failed since 1995. LePage’s proposal isn’t yet public but one thing he wants to curtail is college students voting here without establishing permanent residency. Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, vowed that Democrats will kill the bill.
  • The Department of Justice has refused the Maine secretary of state’s Freedom of Information Act request. A federal judge ordered President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission to turn over documents and working papers to Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who is a member. However, the Department of Justice says the documents are no longer public because the commission dissolved last week, according to Maine Public. Dunlap has vowed a lawsuit.

Long live the King

Today is Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday. We won’t be eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches in his honor.

Instead, we will be holding fast to the hope that he’s happily living the life of a recluse while buying fuses and malted milk in a small town near Kalamazoo, Michigan. Here’s his soundtrack. And here’s a special soundtrack for him if he is sick of the sound of his own voice. –– Robert Long

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.