Election Season Begins as Legislative Leaders Eye New Seats


By Leif Parsell

This week Maine legislative leaders Representatives Andre Cushing (R-Hampden) and Emily Cain (D-Orono) both declared their candidacy for Maine state senate seats.

Cushing, the current House majority whip, will run in the Republican primary for Senate district 33, which includes the towns in Penobscot County of Hampden, Newburgh, Dixmont, Carmel, Etna, Plymouth, Glenburn, Kenduskeag, Levant, Stetson, Newport, Corinth, Exeter, Corinna, Charleston, Garland, and Dexter.  He has served in Augusta since 2009 and will be opposed by former representative Brian Duprey of Hampden in the primary.  Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, who defeated Democrat Sherman Leighton in 2010 69% to 31%, is vacating the seat due to term limits.  Leighton plans to run again according to Lizzy Reinholt, Communications Director for the Maine Democratic Party, and has released statements critical of Republican legislative proposals in Augusta.

For the house seat currently held by Cushing, District 39, which includes the towns of Hampden, Dixmont, and Newburgh, no candidates have currently registered.  Cushing defeated Democrat Shelby Wright and Green Party candidate Caroline Rae Dodge with 58.8% of the vote, to Wright’s 32.9% and Wrights 8.1%.

Cain, the House minority leader, will be running for the Senate in the 30th district, which includes the towns in Penobscot County of Veazie, Orono, Penobscot Indian Island, Old Town, Hudson, Alton, Argyle Township, Greenbush, Bradford, Lagrange, Edinburg, Passadumkeag, Engfield, Howland, Maxfield, Lincoln, Twombly Township, Lee, Winn, Springfield, Webster Plantation, Kingman Township, and Mattawamkeag.  She has served since 2004, and was previously the House majority leader.  Elizabeth Schneider (D-Orono), who defeated Republican Traci Gauthier in 2010 54.5% to 45.4%, has vacated the seat due to term limits.

For the house district currently held by Cain, District 19, which represents a portion of Orono, no candidates have registered.   Cain defeated Republican Zachary Jackman 69.4% to 30.5% in 2010.

Both houses of the Maine legislature switched party control in 2010.  Republicans currently hold the Maine Senate 20 seats to 14 for Democrats, with one independent, and the House 78seats to the Democrats 72seats.

Party candidates who wish to appear on the primary and election ballots in 2012 can begin collecting signatures after January first, and have until March 15th to submit a minimum of signatures, 25 for house candidates, 100 for senate, to the Secretary of State.  Candidates who wish to qualify for Clean Elections funds have until April 20th to submit their qualifying donations to the Ethics Commission, with a minimum of sixty $5 donations for House candidates, and one-hundred and seventy-five for Senate candidates.  For more information, the Secretary of State’s office will be publishing their candidates guide on Monday, December 19th.