Rep. Justin Chenette is the apparent winner in the race against veteran politician Barry Hobbins for the Democratic nomination for the Senate District 31 seat in York County.

The race featured two experienced and well-known legislators vying for the chance to run for the seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Linda Valentino.

Both Chenette and Hobbins currently are serving as state representatives in their hometown of Saco. And, although separated in age by 40 years, both also became the youngest sitting Maine lawmaker when first elected at the age of 21.

Senate District 31 covers Hollis, Limington, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and part of Buxton.

With nine of 11 precincts reporting, Chenette led Hobbins with 57 percent of the vote. Chenette had 1,208 votes to Hobbins’ 923 votes.

Chenette will face Republican William Gombar of Old Orchard Beach in the November election, and will have a decided advantage in a district with far more registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Chenette, 25, said he spoke to Hobbins after the results were tallied and thanked him for running “a very positive and clean campaign.”

“It was civil to the very end and demonstrated our mutual respect for one another,” Chenette said. “We’re looking forward to working together to elect Democrats this fall, not just in our district, but across the state.”

Throughout the campaign, Chenette maintained an active presence on social media and rallied young voters to support his campaign.

“It’s a great feeling to see so many people show up (to vote) today who are energized. There were lots of first-time voters and people excited to see a new generation of leadership at the State House,” he said.

Chenette, a digital advertising executive for the Journal Tribune, was the youngest openly gay legislator in the country when he was first elected four years ago. Chenette said his two terms in Augusta coupled with his willingness to stand up to Gov. Paul LePage give him the experience and outlook needed to bring change to state politics.

During his time in Augusta as a state representative, Chenette co-chaired the bipartisan youth caucus and served on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, where he helped reach a county jail funding compromise that brings more resources to York County. He also championed the expansion of the Opportunity Maine tax credit to reduce student loan debt and sponsored successful legislation that added community service to the list of high school graduation standards. He was co-sponsor of bills to raise the minimum wage, create a cold case unit, put out a bond for affordable senior housing and make it easier for children of veterans to obtain college tuition waivers.

Hobbins, 65, is an attorney who spent 12 years in the House before moving to the Senate for five terms. He left politics for 14 years before being elected to the Senate in 2004 and serving four two-year terms. For the past four years, he has represented Saco in the House.

During the campaign, Hobbins said his cordial relationship with LePage and ability to work with Republican legislators makes him the best choice to represent a sprawling district that includes towns with more conservative voters.

Chenette said late Tuesday night that he is looking forward to getting back to work on the campaign trail.

“We still have a long journey ahead of us to win in November, but we’re going to work really hard,” he said.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @grahamgillian

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.