Emily Cain won the nomination Tuesday as the Democratic candidate to succeed U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. In the district’s Republican primary, Bruce Poliquin was headed to a victory over Kevin Raye.
Cain, 34, a state senator from Orono, was the favorite over Troy Jackson, 45, the Maine Senate majority leader from Allagash.
A few minutes into Wednesday morning, four hours after the polls closed, Cain led Jackson 72 percent to 28 percent, with 79 percent of the precincts reporting.
At the same time, Poliquin, 60, a former state treasurer from Oakland, led Raye, 53, a former Maine Senate president from Perry, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Cain campaign spokesman Dan Cashman said he was surprised the election was decided so early. He said Jackson ran “a very good campaign.”
“Obviously, we’re very happy with the turnout and the support for Emily, and we’re excited to hear what she has to say,” Cashman said.
Poliquin, full of his typical exuberance, arrived at his campaign party at Dysart’s restaurant in Bangor just before 9 p.m., giving each of the roughly 40 supporters hugs and handshakes.
Raye addressed his crowd of supporters just before 10 p.m., saying he was “not optimistic” and didn’t see “trends that would give us a victory.”
“It appears that where turnout is high, we’re doing well. Where turnout is low, we’re not doing so well,” he said. “And unfortunately, there seem to be more places where turnout is low.”
Early reports statewide indicated that turnout was low in the primary election, but that was expected. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Tuesday night that 13 percent to 15 percent of Maine’s voter-age population was expected to cast ballots by 8 p.m.
Final turnout numbers would be a key factor in the Republican race, said Sandy Maisel, a professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, and Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine.
Since Poliquin is well-liked by many on the far right of the party, who tend to be more active primary voters than moderates, their idea was that a low-turnout electorate would include more of his supporters than Raye’s.
On Monday, Maisel, a Democrat, guessed that Raye could not win if turnout didn’t go above 20 percent in the 2nd District.
Brewer agreed, saying “heavy turnout is Kevin Raye’s friend; low turnout is Bruce Poliquin’s friend.”
At Poliquin’s party, supporter Aaron Prill said, “At the (Republican Party) convention, Bruce had more of a grass-roots support, and his supporters seem more involved and more likely to vote in a primary.”
Raye ran on a record of getting Republican reforms passed without alienating Democrats, while Poliquin said he was the true fiscal and social conservative in the race.
Among the supporters at Poliquin’s party was Simone Engelhardt, chairwoman of Pittsfield’s Republican committee. She said she supports Poliquin because of his more conservative stance on abortion rights than Raye’s.
“Bruce represents pro-life and that’s important to me,” Engelhardt said. “His conservatism is proven.”
Cain was favored to win the Democratic nomination. Last week, an environmental group that endorsed her released a poll showing her 35 percentage points ahead of Jackson.
Greg Gilman, 61, a Cain supporter from Enfield who appeared in one of her commercials, called the candidate young and energetic.
“There are a lot of good qualities, and she actually worries about people and how to benefit them in the years to come,” he said.
The winners will face off in November’s general election for the seat in Congress being vacated by Michaud, who is running for governor.
Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Eric Russell, Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Jesse Scardina and Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Paul Koenig contributed to this report.
Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at: