AUGUSTA – State Rep. Norm Higgins announced Tuesday he was leaving the Republican Party and would serve as an independent in order to escape partisan squabbling.

Higgins joins a growing list of state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have abandoned their party affiliations in 2017 in order to serve as independent members of the Legislature.

Higgins, a retired school teacher and principal from Dover-Foxcroft, is the second member of the House to leave the Republican party, following Rep. Kevin Battle of South Portland, who withdrew in January. Higgins is serving his second term in the Legislature.

“The Legislature becomes a partisan arena where the outcomes are measured in wins and losses,” Higgins said in a prepared statement. “Our citizens observe this extreme level of competition and lose faith in our ability as a society to find solutions for the common good. The citizens expect their representatives to work together and capture the best ideas regardless of party and find common-sense solutions.”

In 2017, three incumbent Democrats have also left their party to become independents, including Reps. Denise Harlow, of Portland; Ralph Chapman, of Brooksville and Martin Grohman, of Biddeford.

Grohman left the party in September, while Harlow and Chapman dropped their affiliations in May, in part because of their opposition to a bill to overhaul Maine’s metallic mining regulations that was supported by most Democrats.

Higgins’ departure brings the House Republican caucus to 69 members, following the unexpected death of state Rep. Gina Mason, R-Lisbon, in September. Mason’s seat will be filled by a special election on Nov. 7. Democrats hold 74 seats in the House, while there are now seven independents, counting Higgins.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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