The Lewiston mayoral race that some have called a proxy war between the Maine Republican and Democratic parties will continue to a runoff election on December 8th.
Since none of the five candidates garnered a majority of votes on Tuesday, the two leading contenders – incumbent conservative mayor Robert Macdonald and liberal challenger Ben Chin – will face off.
Macdonald, who was first elected in 2011, ran on a platform of welfare and immigration reform. Chin has championed a progressive agenda for the city, saying he wants to promote solar energy production, build more housing units, and create an Office of New Americans to help immigrants learn English and become citizens.
On election night, Chin finished first with 3,673 votes, followed by Macdonald with 3,107 votes. Stephen Morgan came in third with 1,276 votes, followed by Luke Jensen with 204 and Charles Soule with 72 votes.
Despite receiving support from the Maine Republican Party, Macdonald was heavily outspent by Chin, who raised about $63,000 in contributions. By contrast, Macdonald raised only $1,600. According to financial disclosure records, a large portion of Chin’s campaign expenditures went to the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive activist group where Chin is also employed.
Having garnered only 44% of the vote, and with turnout expected to slump in the runoff election, Chin’s path to victory is narrow. Combined, Macdonald and Morgan, both conservatives, commanded 52.6% of the vote on Tuesday.
The race has drawn significant media attention, including national headlines. In September, Macdonald called for an online registry of those receiving public assistance, an idea that failed to gain traction among legislators. Then in October, Lewiston landlord Joe Dunne put up signs that read “Don’t vote for Ho Chi Chin,” an attack widely-denounced as racist against the half-Chinese candidate.