AUGUSTA – Eight Republicans and three Democrats have dropped out of the running for the Maine House of Representatives as the battle for control of the Legislature enters its final weeks.

Candidates had until Friday to withdraw their names and can no longer be replaced on the November ballot, which means that several incumbents will run unopposed in November, including Republican Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon and Democratic Reps. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston and Richard Farnsworth of Portland.

Among those who dropped out is Ashley Ryan, a Republican National Committeewoman for Maine who was running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Diane Russell and Green Party candidate Lauren Marie Besanko for one of the House seats that represent Portland.

Democrats are eager to maintain control of the Legislature, which they retook from Republicans two years ago. Of the 151 members in the House, 89 are Democrats Democrats, 58 are Republicans, two are independents and two are unenrolled.

In July, Republicans touted their ability to recruit 150 candidates for the House, compared to just 139 for Democrats. Democrats dismissed the idea of Republican momentum, noting that they had more than double the number of incumbent lawmakers on the ballot as Republicans.

On Monday, Democratic Party spokeswoman Rachel Irwin seized on the large number of incumbent Republicans who decided not to run this year, saying in an email that it shows “a growing frustration within the GOP about Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s ‘my way or the highway approach to governing.’ ”

David Sorensen, spokesman for the Republican Party, said there are a variety of reasons why candidates would drop out of a race and Democrats are focusing on “inside baseball” because they don’t have the issues on their side.

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