AUGUSTA – York Selectman Michael Estes defeated Rep. Sally Lewin in the Senate District 1 Republican primary, a result confirmed by a recount Thursday.

Lewin, who served eight years in the House before making a Senate run, requested a recount after primary night results showed Estes with just a two-vote lead.

Thursday’s recount had Estes winning by three votes: 1,548 to 1,545.

The district covers York, Eliot, South Berwick, Ogunquit and Kittery.

Estes, of York, will face Rep. Dawn Hill, D-York, in November.

“I’m sure it will be a nice, clean and good, honest campaign, just like this one was,” Estes said.

The seat is open because Sen. Peter Bowman, D-Kittery, decided not to run after four years in office.

Leaders of both parties expect some competitive Senate races this year. Democrats currently control the chamber, 20-15.

Estes, a member of the York Board of Selectmen and owner of Estes Oil Co., said he decided to run for the Legislature because he understands the struggles of small-business owners.

He said he ran because of “my dissatisfaction with the way things are going in Augusta. It’s a lot of stuff coming down on all of us.”

The recount lasted most of the day Thursday, in part because of some confusion surrounding Democrats who wrote in at least a few Republican names on their primary ballots in South Berwick, said Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state.

That raised concerns that some Republican voters may have been given the wrong ballots on Election Day, Flynn said.

In primaries, only those enrolled in a party may vote for that party’s candidates.

Because of the write-ins, Flynn asked counters to review voter lists to see how many Democratic and Republican voters participated in the primary.

But those totals fell short of the number of ballots cast by about 14, she said.

“It’s very hard for that to be a perfect thing,” she said. “There’s always some human error.”

Attorneys representing Lewin were hoping to find that the list would be off by just three, which would give credence to the theory that some voters were given the wrong ballots. But that’s difficult to prove, Flynn said.

“It could have been a Democrat who really wanted to vote for a Republican,” she said.

Lewin, the ranking minority member of the Health and Human Services Committee, said she will stay active in Republican politics by working to open a party headquarters in York County.

“Things happen as they are meant to happen,” she said. “I absolutely am not meant to be (at the State House) now.”

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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