SACO — Rep. Linda Valentino is leading in a state Senate primary race that pitted her against another longtime state representative who drew out-of-state donations.
Valentino was ahead of Rep. Don Pilon for the Democratic nomination for Senate District 5, despite monetary support he received from racino developers and state and national realtors’ groups. Valentino had 64 percent of the vote with three of 12 precincts reporting.
The District 5 race was among four Democratic primaries in northern York County and southern Cumberland County decided Tuesday. Senate districts 4, 5, 6 and 7 cover the Biddeford-Saco area and communities in Greater Portland.
Pilon and Linda Valentino, both of Saco, sought the nomination to replace Sen. Barry Hobbins, who must leave after four terms in office. District 5 covers Buxton, Dayton, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and part of Biddeford.
The District 5 race attracted attention after Ocean Properties Inc., the Portsmouth, N.H.-based developer behind last year’s racino proposal in Biddeford, transferred $25,000 to a new political action committee. The Race for ME PAC spent more than $13,000 to support pro-racino candidates in Biddeford and Saco, including $9,513 in support of Pilon. Pilon supported the racino, while Valentino was a high-profile proponent of sending any racino plans to a statewide vote.
Records on file with the state ethics commission show that Pilon, a real estate agent, also had the backing of the Maine Association of Realtors PAC, which spent $2,700 on his behalf, and the National Association of Realtors spent $3,500 on phone banks and automated phone calls. Pilon also has a leadership PAC, Move Maine Forward, which on Dec. 27 received $2,100 from six Ocean Properties executives.
The nine mailers sent in support of Pilon helped increase name and face recognition across the district, Pilon said as he waited for polls to close.
“Everyone in the district heard of me constantly,” he said.
Despite that, Pilon said he was disappointed with the numbers from Saco, Biddeford, Buxton and Old Orchard Beach, where he trailed behind Valentino. He said he would not concede the race until results were available from Dayton.
“I’m extremely pleased that Maine people reward people who do positive campaigning,” Valentino said.
The winner will run against Republican Timothy Sevigny of Saco in the November general election.
In York County, David Dutremble topped Jim Emerson of Biddeford for the District 4 nomination.
Driscoll led with 53 percent of votes with 7 of 10 precincts reporting.
The winner of the nomination faces off against Ruth Summers of Scarborough in November. In District 7, Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth finished ahead of Bryan Kaenrath of South Portland with 63 percent of votes in Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and Scarborough. Millett, a former Cape Elizabeth School Board member, will face Republican Gary Crosby of South Portland to replace state Sen. Cynthia Dill, who ran for U.S. Senate. Kaenrath was a three-term representative for House District 124 in South Portland.