The Republican wave that re-elected Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and ushered Bruce Poliquin into the U.S. House also trickled down to the Maine Legislature.

Republicans regained control of the state Senate and gained 10 seats in the House, setting the stage for LePage and the party to pursue an agenda that includes reforming welfare further, tackling high energy costs, and spurring economic development through tax and regulatory cuts.

In the Senate, Republicans picked up five seats for a 20-15 edge in the upper chamber.

By adding 10 seats in the House, the party reduced the Democratic majority from 31 seats to 11, with Democrats now holding 79 seats to the Republicans’ 68. The four remaining seats were won by Greens and independents.

David Sorensen, spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, said LePage’s re-election, coupled with a new Republican-controlled Senate, changes the dynamic in Augusta.

“We want to get things done,” he said. “The ball will be in Democrats’ court, but I think you’ll see a lot more pragmatism.”


House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick, now the highest-ranking Democrat in state government, struck a conciliatory tone.

“The election is over. Now is the time to govern,” Eves said in a written statement. “We are ready to work with the governor and our Republican colleagues and remain strongly committed to standing up for seniors and middle-class families.”

The Maine House and Senate, which had been reliably Democratic for roughly four decades before 2010, have see-sawed between the parties in the past few years.

When LePage was elected to his first term in 2010, he brought with him Republican majorities in both chambers. Two years later, during the same election that saw President Obama win a second term, Maine Democrats regained control of the House and Senate, largely by running against LePage and his policies.

Led by gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, Democrats made the 2014 elections a referendum on LePage, ultimately an unsuccessful one.

Maine Republican Chairman Rick Bennett said Tuesday’s results could help lead to a “long-term sustainable Republican majority in Maine.”


Jason Savage, the party’s executive director, highlighted a voter turnout effort that he said contributed to Republican victories.

“We beat the Democrats at their own game and we will replicate and expand upon our efforts in every election cycle from now on,” Savage said.

Among the Senate seats picked up by Republicans were District 30 in Scarborough and Gorham, where former Rep. Amy Volk ousted incumbent James Boyle; District 20 in Auburn, where Eric Brakey topped incumbent John Cleveland; and District 33 in Sanford, where longtime Democratic lawmaker John Tuttle was beaten by David Woodsome.

Democrats did retain two seats that were considered toss-ups: District 9 in Bangor, where Geoff Gratwick held off challenger Cary Weston in a race dominated by outside spending, mostly to benefit Gratwick; and District 13 in the midcoast, where Chris Johnson held onto his seat by beating back former state Rep. Les Fossel.

Republicans may end up picking up one more Senate seat. In the District 25 race in the Falmouth area, Democrat Cathy Breen finished with just a seven-vote margin over Republican Cathy Manchester, who has requested a recount.

Philip Bartlett, a former state senator from Gorham and the National Democratic Committeeman for Maine, said this year’s election was clearly a Republican wave, but his party’s ideals won’t change.


“Our primary goal is to help to get our message out to voters, to grow the Democratic Party and promote progressive public policy,” he said.

Bartlett said he hopes LePage will recognize that even though he won re-election, he still didn’t receive majority support among Maine voters.

“I hope he’ll show a little humility and reach out,” Bartlett said.

Michael Franz, associate professor of government at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, said Democrats should be the ones to approach policymaking with humility.

“I think the Democratic Party in Maine is in rough shape,” Franz said. “They may have good technology and good analytics and good messaging, but their talent base of candidates is thin.”

As for LePage, Franz said the makeup of the Legislature largely won’t matter to him.


“He’ll likely govern the same way,” Franz said. “But it’s possible that he’ll become more of a deal breaker knowing he doesn’t have a re-election to worry about.”

How well the two chambers work together, and with the governor, could depend on who is elected to leadership.

The current Senate Republican leader is Mike Thibodeau of Winterport, a LePage ally not known for reaching out to Democrats. The assistant Senate Republican leader is Roger Katz of Augusta, perhaps the most moderate Republican in Augusta and someone who is well-respected by Democrats.

Eves is likely in line to remain House speaker.


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