Party candidates in three of the four biggest election races in Maine will run unopposed for their parties’ nominations in the June primaries.

There will be contested primaries for both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the 2nd District race to replace departing Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. The deadline for filing to run in the June 10 primary was at 5 p.m. Monday. The lack of contested primaries leaves candidates free for the most part to focus on November.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic challenger Michaud will run unopposed in gubernatorial primaries, and independent Eliot Cutler will have until June 2 to file his nomination papers to appear on the November ballot as well.

Michaud’s decision to step down from his congressional seat and run for governor drew five party candidates into the 2nd District congressional race.

Kevin Raye of Perry, a former state senate president, and Bruce Poliquin of Oakland, a former state treasurer, will run for the Republican nomination. State Sen. Emily Cain of Orono and state Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash will run for the Democratic nomination.

The fifth candidate, Democrat Alden Smith of Sangerville, announced Monday morning that he has withdrawn from the race.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will run unopposed in the Republican primary, as will Shenna Bellows of Manchester, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, on the Democratic side.

Collins, one of the most moderate Republicans in Congress, was expected by some to face a challenge from her party’s conservative wing.

Erick Bennett of Portland, founder of the Maine Equal Rights Center, had said he would challenge Collins in the primary. But Bennett, an unsuccessful write-in candidate for Portland mayor in 2011, said he decided to leave the Republican Party after a group of moderate Republicans proposed Medicaid expansion and some conservative state Republicans started advocating for the uninsured to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Bennett did not remove his name from the Republican Party rolls until after a March 1 deadline, so he can’t run as an independent in November, but says he will mount a write-in campaign against Collins in the Republican primary.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, as expected, will run uncontested in the 1st District Democratic primary; her opponent, Isaac Misiuk of Gorham, will do the same on the Republican side.

There are a number of legislative primary contests around the state – including a high stakes Democratic primary in Yarmouth. But party candidates in most districts will be uncontested in June.

The race for an open seat representing Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth and surrounding areas has attracted two Democrats and two Republicans. The seat is being vacated by Dick Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth.

The Democratic primary will pit former Falmouth Town Councilor Cathy Breen against Yarmouth Town Council Chairman Steve Woods. The Republican primary will pit William Gardner of Yarmouth against David Savage of Falmouth.

Another open Senate seat – this one representing Windham and surrounding towns – will not feature any party primaries but could be seen as a key electoral prize in November.

Republican Sen. Gary Plummer did not submit nomination papers, putting the seat up for grabs in a district that has swung from Democrat to Republican.

Former Democratic state Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham is the only Democrat seeking his old seat in the Legislature. David Call of Standish is the only Republican seeking the seat.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Staff Writer Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

[email protected]