A special committee of the Maine Senate will be formed to decide the winner of the Senate District 25 election because of a disputed recount of the Election Day results.

Tuesday’s recount in Augusta reversed the initial results and gave the election to Republican Cathleen Manchester of Gray. Democrat Catherine Breen of Falmouth challenged the results, so a committee of state senators – typically five members from each party – will be formed to determine the winner.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said in a telephone interview Tuesday night that the recount indicated that Breen lost the election.

Initial results from the Nov. 4 election showed Breen winning the race for the seat, which represents Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, Gray, Long Island, Chebeague Island and parts of Westbrook.

Unofficial results from Election Day showed Breen with 10,930 votes and Manchester with 10,898. But in Tuesday’s recount, Manchester got 10,927 votes to Breen’s 10,916.

Dunlap said nine ballots are still in dispute and seven ballots are missing. He could not be more specific.


“They could be stuck in an envelope somewhere. We just don’t know where they are,” Dunlap said.

The race was hotly contested by the two parties, with independent groups spending tens of thousands of dollars on direct mailings. It even drew attention outside Maine, with the national Republican State Leadership Committee naming Manchester one of its top 14 female state-level candidates to watch in 2014. Emily’s List, a national group that supports pro-abortion-rights women, endorsed Breen.

Manchester, 54, is a self-employed real estate agent. She was the state’s first female municipal police chief and is a former stock car racer.

Breen, 49, is a former Falmouth town councilor, who was termed out of office in 2011.

The winner will fill the seat that was left open when independent Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth chose not to seek re-election.

The Senate president will appoint the committee to review the election results. After the committee completes its review, it will make a recommendation to the full Senate, which will declare the winner. Until the Senate does that, Dunlap said, Breen will be “provisionally seated.”

“This could last into January,” Dunlap said. “But in the meantime, the district deserves representation.”

Newly elected legislators are scheduled to be sworn into office Dec. 3.

“The Senate will be the final arbiter of this dispute,” said Dunlap. “The courts will not be asked to consider this.”

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