AUGUSTA – The new majority party in the Maine Legislature selected its Senate leadership Friday during an open meeting in the Senate chambers.

Republicans selected Kevin Raye of Perry as Senate president, Jon Courtney of Springvale as majority leader, and Deb Plowman of Hampden as assistant majority leader.

All three are beginning their fourth two-year terms in the Senate, so they are ineligible for re-election because of term limits. Raye and Courtney held their party’s top two leadership positions in the last legislative session.

House Republicans are set to elect their leaders on Nov. 12. House Democrats are scheduled to meet for the same purpose on Nov. 18.

On Election Day, Republicans gained a 20-15 advantage in the Senate over Democrats, who had the same advantage in the most recent session.

The 125th Legislature is scheduled to convene Dec. 1. For the first time in decades, Republicans will hold majorities in both chambers and have a Republican governor.

Raye was unopposed for the top leadership position after Sen. Richard Rosen of Bucksport declined to accept a nomination. Rosen instead asked to be considered for the No. 2 spot as majority leader but lost in a secret ballot to Courtney.

Plowman defeated Sen. David Trahan of Waldoboro for the No. 3 leadership position.

“What we have been through is one of the most difficult and awkward things that we will have to do as members of this Senate,” Raye said after the votes. “But I can tell you that this caucus will be united, we will work together, we will extend the hand of bipartisanship across the aisle to those who will be in the minority.

“We know what it is to be in the minority. We understand from our years in the minority the importance of fairness,” he said.

Gov.-elect Paul LePage made a surprise visit to the chamber during the meeting and briefly addressed the Senate Republicans.

“This is just a marvelous, marvelous election year. I mean, beyond my greatest dreams,” he said. “I look absolutely forward to sitting with each and every one of you discussing the problems and finding solutions to get Maine out of the bottom of the heap, at least to the middle of the heap.”

Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, said he and other Democrats are looking forward to working with Republicans to focus on Maine’s economy and job creation.

“The status of the economy over the last three or four years is probably the biggest reason you saw so many state legislatures across the country changing hands. That needs to be a focus and it needs to be done in such a way that the prosperity is lasting and is shared,” said Berry, who is seeking to become the House minority leader.

Now that the election is over, Berry said, it’s time for lawmakers to set aside their partisan differences and focus on governing.

“I’ve spoken the to the governor-elect. He was very gracious, and we look forward to a strong bipartisan effort over the next year to tackle the tough challenges that Maine people want us to tackle,” he said.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]