Tuesday December 04, 2012 | 09:56 AM

Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, is presumed to be the next Senate president. However, Republicans plan to put up a fight Wednesday when they nominate Sen. Garrett Mason, of Livermore Falls. 

Mason is unlikely to win the presidency by virtue of the Democrats' numbers advantage in the chamber. But running an opposition candidate could be perceived as more message to the incoming Democratic majority. 

Jim Cyr, spokesman for the Senate Republicans, said that the caucus wanted to nominate Mason because his colleagues see him as a competent leader from rural Maine who "understands all Mainers." Cyr also emphasized Mason's work in passing a charter school bill when Republicans held power last session. 

Given that Alfond has been portrayed by Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans as an extreme partisan from liberal Portland, it would seem that Republicans are sending a bit of a message about the incoming president. 

Additionally, Mason was heavily targeted by Democratic political action committees during the election. He held his seat after a recount gave him a narrow victory over Democratic challenger Colleen Quint.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, the incoming assistant minority leader, declined to comment on Mason's nomination. Katz said that he would discuss it after his office issued its press release. 

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
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