A state lawmaker’s refusal to say whether he will run for re-election despite the Maine Democratic Party’s call for him to drop out has created a dilemma for the party.

Party Chairman Ben Grant told MaineToday Media on Monday that Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx of Brunswick should abandon his bid for a third term representing House District 66.

Grant said Cornell du Houx could be vulnerable in the election Nov. 6 because a failed romantic relationship with a female lawmaker led her to secure a temporary protection order against Cornell du Houx. The two eventually agreed to a legal settlement.

Cornell du Houx blasted Grant for his comments Monday, calling them unprofessional. He refused to say whether he planned to stay in the race.

On Tuesday, Grant stood by his comments, saying Cornell du Houx’s withdrawal would be the best thing for Cornell du Houx “personally and for the people of District 66.”

Since settling the case with Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, Cornell du Houx has “consistently told people within the Democratic Party that he doesn’t plan to seek re-election, and we’ve been operating under that assumption,” Grant said.

He said the party needs to move on to the job of finding a candidate to replace Cornell du Houx. “There is no reason for any further delay that might slow down that process.”

Cornell du Houx, who left this week for a two-week trip to Australia with the American Council of Young Political Leaders, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

He has until July 9 to withdraw in time for the Brunswick Democratic Town Committee to hold a caucus and draft a new candidate for the November ballot. It’s unclear what will happen if he does not step aside.

Democrats could organize a write-in campaign against Cornell du Houx or stay out of the race and take their chances that a strong Green candidate will win and caucus with House Democrats.

Cornell du Houx is running against Republican John Bouchard and Green Independent David Frans. The district leans strongly toward Democratic candidates, but Cornell du Houx faced a strong challenge in 2010 from Green Independent Fred Horch, who divided the district’s progressive vote.

Democrats in Brunswick speculate privately that Frans will be a place holder candidate for Horch. Frans and Horch could not be reached for comment.

Andy Cashman, chairman of the Brunswick Democratic Town Committee, issued a prepared statement that read, in part, “ultimately the voters in District 66 are the ones who will decide who can best represent their interests in Augusta.”

State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said Cornell Du Houx has to “make up his own mind.”

“He’s been bouncing back and forth. I guess I’ll end up supporting him either way,” said Gerzofsky, who serves on the town committee.

Gerzofsky was mentioned as a potential replacement candidate, but he dismissed the idea. Gerzofsky represented District 66, formerly District 50, for four consecutive terms and is now seeking re-election to the Senate District 20 seat.

Herbig secured a temporary protection-from-abuse order against Cornell du Houx on April 30, alleging that he had stalked and threatened her. Herbig withdrew her request to extend the protection order after signing the private agreement.

Cornell du Houx had been investigated by the Maine State Police, who ended the probe without filing charges or interviewing him.

 

State House Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: smistler@mainetoday.com