July 18, 2011

Trahan move will lead to new election

The fourth special election of the 125th Legislature will likely be held in November, when voters in Senate District 20 will be asked to pick a new senator.

Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, announced last week that he will take over as executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, a job that entails lobbying and will prevent him from continuing to serve as a lawmaker.

Trahan, 48, served eight years in the House and three in the Senate. He worked for years to establish the state government watchdog office -- the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability -- and recently served as co-chairman of the Legislature's Taxation Committee.

Trahan worked with the state Republican Party to repeal a Democratic tax plan last year, and helped to craft the income tax cuts and other tax breaks that passed last month as part of the state budget.

Trahan loved being in the Legislature, but said he has had a hard time in the last year with what he sees as a change in tone. "It's become a little harsher tone than I'm used to," he said.

Trahan is one of 20 Republicans in the Senate, which has 14 Democrats and one independent.

He fought in this session to get a constitutional amendment passed to secure a portion of Maine's sales tax for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The measure failed by one vote to get the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.

A logger by profession, Trahan said he will leave that behind to focus on the job of leading the sportsman's alliance. "To get a job like that, for me, is a perfect fit," he said. "It's exciting."

Trahan said he will meet with the alliance's board in early August to discuss a compensation package, and will likely resign from the Senate in September. A special election probably will be scheduled for November to fill the seat, which represents 21 towns in Lincoln County, two in Knox County and the Kennebec County town of Windsor.

The special election will follow three others since November:

Rep. Everett McLeod Sr., R-Lee, died in December, opening up the seat in House District 11. Rep. Beth Turner, R-Burlington, was elected to the seat in March.

Sen. Larry Bliss, D-South Portland, resigned his seat in March to take a job in California. Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, won the election to fill his spot.

That opened up Dill's House seat. An election for that seat is set for Aug. 16.


You can file this in the "inevitable" category, but a tipster reports receiving a polling call last week concerning the looming gambling referendums.

The campaigns promise to be blockbusters, with major profits at stake.

One ballot question will ask Mainers if they want to approve a casino with slot machines and table games in Lewiston. The other will ask Mainers if they want to approve racinos in Biddeford and Washington County.

Likely to oppose both questions are groups that recently won approval for a casino in Oxford and table games at Hollywood Slots in Bangor -- pending approval by Penobscot County voters.

The polling call seemed to be testing ways a voter would be less likely to support the ballot questions, according to the tipster.

Hollywood Slots is owned by Penn National, which has spent millions of dollars for lobbying and public campaigns in other states to expand gambling or keep out competing interests. Our tipster said the poll tested favorabilities for both Penn National and Black Bear Entertainment, which owns the Oxford casino rights.


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