2018 Maine Legislative Update

November 8, 2018 Alerts and Newsletters

Election night is now (mostly) in the books. As the night wore on, the blue tide turned into a blue wave and ended as a mini blue tsunami crashing on the Maine shore. More results are still coming in, but here's what we know about the top of the ticket races:

  • Janet Mills (D-Farmington) becomes the first woman to be elected Governor of Maine, garnering nearly 50% of the vote in a four-way race.[1]
  • Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) is on the precipice of defeating incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin in the Maine's Second Congressional District. The race is essentially a dead heat, but with Maine's first-in-the-nation "ranked choice voting" process, the votes of the third-place candidate will be redistributed between Poliquin and Golden based on their second choice votes. Most observers believe Golden will pick up the majority of those votes, handing him the votes he needs to win an outright majority.
  • US Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) handily defeated Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) and Democrat Zack Ringelstein, garnering over 50% of the vote in the first ballot.
  • Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) won nearly 60% of the vote on the first ballot, defeating Republican Mark Holbrook, and former Democrat, now Independent Marty Grohman.

These top of the ticket races clearly attracted Maine voters to the polls in record numbers for a mid-term election. The heavy turnout helped a number of Democrats win seats in previously Republican controlled districts, leaving both chambers of the Legislature in Democratic control for the first time in four years:

  • The Maine Senate went from a narrow, 18-17 Republican majority to a more comfortable Democratic majority of at least 19-14, with 2 races yet to be decided. Noteworthy Democratic pickups include:
    • Former House Majority Leader Erin Herbig flipping the Belfast State Senate seat previously held by Senate President Mike Thibodeau
    • Louis Luchinirecapturing Hancock County seat previously held for four terms by Brian Langley (R-Ellsworth)
  • The Maine House went from a 73-70-6 Democratic plurality to a likely 87-58-4 Democratic majority, with several recounts possible in close races. A number of three-way races with a left of center independents stayed in Democratic control with surprising margins such as:
    • Dick Farnsworth (D-Portland) defeating both Jane Frey (R) and Justin Pollard (G) with over 70% of the vote, and
    • Teresa Pierce (D-Falmouth) winning nearly 60% of the vote in a suburban seat while facing both Republican and Green candidates.

Along with voting for a full slate of statewide and local races on Tuesday, Mainers voted on one citizen-initiated referendum question and four statewide bond questions totaling nearly $200 million. With nearly 75% of precincts reported, here are the apparent results:

  • Question 1: Mainers overwhelmingly rejected Question 1 by a 62%-38% margin. This referendum question – put forward by the progressive Maine Peoples Alliance -- would have established 3.8 percent income tax surcharge on individual and family income over $128,400, and the funds would have been available to all Mainers, regardless of income, to defray some of the costs home-care for seniors and disabled individuals. The referendum drew strong criticism from home care agencies, health care and business associations, and all three gubernatorial candidates. Critics targeted the funding mechanism and also noted that it would provide coverage to people with the means to pay their own ways.
  • Question 2, a $30,000,000 bond issue to improve water quality, support the planning and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and assist homeowners whose homes are served by substandard or malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems. This bond appeared poised to pass with 55% of the vote.
  • Question 3, a $106,000,000 bond issue, including $101,000,000 for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities and equipment related to ports, piers, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and $5,000,000 for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings. This bond appeared to pass with a strong 68% majority.
  • Question 4, a $49,000,000 bond issue to be matched by at least $49,000,000 in private and public funds to modernize and improve the facilities and infrastructure of Maine's public universities in order to expand workforce development capacity and to attract and retain students to strengthen Maine's economy and future workforce. This bond was supported by 55% of voters.
  • Question 5, a $15,000,000 bond issue to improve educational programs by upgrading facilities at all 7 of Maine's community colleges in order to provide Maine people with access to high-skill, low-cost technical and career education. This bond enjoyed strong 65% support.

Following the national trend, it was a very Democratic year in Maine. When the final results become available, we will provide an updated and detailed analysis of the races. Until then, please let us know how we can be of help to you as you seek to learn more about the new political climate in Maine.

[1] Four candidates were on the ballot, but one candidate withdrew prior to the election and his votes were not formally counted.

Firm Highlights

Publication/Podcast

Webinar Materials: When a Crisis Strikes: Effective Business Planning and Communications

With a health and economic crisis underway, the in house legal team is a crucial part of a company's response team. Whether facing the COVID-19 pandemic or an employment-related claim and subsequent investigation, your...

Matter

Government Relations: Verrill Helps Neighborhood Group in Dispute Over Proposed Ferry Legislation

In 2013, Jim Cohen helped a group of Yarmouth, Maine residents in a state legislative dispute involving the private ferry service serving the Town of Chebeague Island. In early 2013, the ferry service proposed...

Matter

Government Relations: Preserving Legal Right of Private Company to Acquire a Maine Company

Some transactions go smoothly. But when they don’t, Verrill is ready. The proposed acquisition of a publicly traded company in Maine by large multinational corporation was just such a transaction. For months, the multinational...

News

Nearly 80 Verrill Attorneys Recognized by Best Lawyers® 2021, Including a Dozen Named Lawyers of the Year

(August 24, 2020) – Nearly 80 Verrill attorneys were recognized as "Best Lawyers" by Best Lawyers® 2021 , including 12 attorneys named “Lawyer of the Year,” a distinguished recognition for only a single lawyer...

Matter

Energy: Omnibus Energy Legislation

Verrill represented Emera as part of Omnibus Energy Legislation authorizing the State of Maine to procure up to $75 million of natural gas capacity in New England. Our goal was to ensure that the...