AUGUSTA – Now that the 2010 election is over, it’s time to look forward to what’s on the horizon for the next couple of months.

First off, the new Legislature — dominated by Republicans for the first time in decades — will get sworn in Dec. 1.

Senate Republicans have already chosen Sen. Kevin Raye of Perry as their nominee for president. With a 20-14-1 majority, it’s safe to say Raye will take over the gavel on that day. And, in Maine, the Senate president is our version of a lieutenant governor, so he’s the next in line should anything happen to Gov.-elect Paul LePage.

Over in the House, Republicans will meet Friday to choose their speaker. Five men have expressed interest so far: Patrick Flood of Winthrop, Stacey Allen Fitts of Pittsfield, Paul Davis of Sangerville, Andre Cushing of Hampden and Robert Nutting of Oakland.

Republicans will also install new leaders in the House Clerk’s Office and Senate Secretary’s Office. Those jobs are important because they keep things running smoothly in the chambers.

Also on Dec. 1, Republicans will have the power to choose a new attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.

LePage has already suggested that one of his former rivals — Bruce Poliquin — be considered for the position of treasurer. Charlie Summers, a former state senator and 1st District congressional candidate, has been mentioned for secretary of state.

And former state Sen. Doug Smith of Dover-Foxcroft and William Schneider, a former state representative and now assistant U.S. attorney, are two people interested in the attorney general slot.

The other big date to remember?

On Jan. 5, LePage will be sworn in as governor. It will be the first time in 16 years a Republican has been chief executive.

FIRST FRANCO GOVERNOR?

Late on election night, or maybe it was early Wednesday, LePage remarked that he would be the first Franco-American governor of Maine.

Later, that was clarified to be the first elected Franco governor.

So, what’s the story?

Historian Paul Mills provided the answer back in July when he wrote a Maine Compass article for the Kennebec Journal. In 1879, Alonzo Garcelon of Lewiston, a Democrat, finished third in the race for governor with 22 percent of the vote, Mills reported. At the time, Maine law required the Legislature to pick the new governor if none of the candidates had achieved a majority.

They picked Garcelon, a physician, businessman and newspaper publisher, who served just a little over a year, according to a soon-to-be-launched website on Maine governors put together by State Historian Earle Shettleworth.

So LePage, who won a five-way race with 38 percent of the vote, will indeed be the first elected Franco governor of Maine.

‘HELLO PAUL’

As you can imagine, Democrats struggled in the aftermath of the election to come to grips with the loss of the House and Senate, and a third-place finish in the governor’s race.

Some posted open letters on Facebook, others looked shell-shocked in the halls of the State House. For many staffers, the election results mean an immediate need to find another job.

Another outlet proved to be music, with Democrats circulating a YouTube video by Strong Like Bull singing a song called “Hello Paul.”

Described as “office safe” (unless you work at Republican headquarters), the video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDJ4veXMiMY.

KEY COMMITTEE

With rumors about who will be speaker and who will fill other leadership positions, one committee to watch closely will be the Appropriations Committee. These lawmakers receive the governor’s budget, hold public hearings that at times elicit emotional testimony, and try to come up with something suitable to both parties.

It’s the most powerful and important legislative committee — and the one that puts the most demands on members.

Of the 13 members who served last time, three were defeated in their re-election bids: Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford (who ran for the Senate); Rep. Lisa Miller, D-Somerville, and Rep. Gary Connor, D-Kennebunk. One, Rep. John Robinson, R-Raymond, did not seek re-election.

That still leaves a strong core in place, depending on which remaining lawmakers want to take on the tough assignment. And, with Republicans in charge, they will get to seat two senators and six representatives.

BIG FRESHMAN CLASS

In his response to Gov. John Baldacci’s weekly radio address, Republican Leader Josh Tardy hailed Republican victories.

He also pointed out that the freshman class of 38 new GOP members — which includes 10 women — is the “largest freshman class in living memory.”

With term limits, it’s not unusual to have a large incoming freshman class in the House, but it’s usually made up of Democrats. Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to hold the training sessions and create the mentoring opportunities to bring everyone up to speed.

McGRATH RECOGNIZED AGAIN

Lobbyist Toby McGrath, who is political director for Maine Street Solutions in Augusta, successfully ran a campaign in Massachusetts to defeat Question 3 last week, according to a news release from Verrill Dana.

Question 3 would have cut the sales tax in half, which would have also meant a reduction of $2.5 billion in state revenue.

“Voters recognized that this was a reckless proposal which would harm local communities,” McGrath said in a statement.

McGrath served as campaign manager in Maine against the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and excise tax initiatives.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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