May 11, 2011

Dill's Senate win opens up House seat

By Edward D. Murphy
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Now that state Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, has won a special election to the state Senate, attention is turning to her soon-to-be-vacant House seat.

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Dill won the special election Tuesday, defeating Louis Maietta of South Portland in District 7, which covers South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and the coastal portion of Scarborough. The seat was held by former state Sen. Larry Bliss, a Democrat, who resigned to take a job in California.

Dill is expected to be sworn into the Senate this week, said Caitlin Chamberlain, a spokeswoman for the Maine Secretary of State. Before that occurs, she will have to formally resign her House seat, Chamberlain said.

At that point, Cape Elizabeth town officials will have to notify the governor that a vacancy exists.

Chamberlain said her office is looking into precedents. Vacancies that occur early in the legislative session are usually filled with a quick special election, while those that occur at or near the end are usually filled in a special election held in conjunction with other votes in November, she said.

With the Legislature due to adjourn June 15, a special election could not be held quick enough to fill the seat before the session ends, she said. For instance, the secretary of state announced on March 24 that the special election to fill the Senate seat in District 7 would be held on May 10.

Chamberlain also said the Maine Constitution treats Senate and House seats differently. It says Senate vacancies "shall" be filled by an immediate special election, while House seats "may" be filled quickly.

The Secretary of State's Office is expected to announce its decision shortly after the governor gets formal notification of the vacancy from Cape Elizabeth.

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