AUGUSTA – Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, was elected assistant majority leader of the Maine Senate on Monday, replacing Sen. Andre Cushing, who stepped down last month.

Volk, who is serving her fourth term in the Legislature, won election as the assistant majority leader in a secret ballot. The other candidate in the race to succeed Cushing was Sen. James Hamper, R-Oxford, the chairman of the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

As majority whip in the Senate, Volk will be in a position to potentially influence her caucus’s policy positions but also Republicans’ attempts to retain control of the Senate in 2018. Republicans currently hold a one-seat edge in the Senate, and Volk has as reputation as a strong campaigner and fundraiser. Two other Republican Senate leaders – Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls – are running for governor in 2018.

Volk stressed her responsiveness to her colleagues as well as her fundraising ability.

“I look forward to, as I said, spreading myself out around the state and helping us maintain our majority and hopefully even a stronger majority than we have right now,” Volk, co-chair of the Legislature’s busy Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee, said after the election.

Cushing, R-Hampden, cited family commitments in his announcement last month that he was resigning his leadership position.

“As citizen legislators, we must carefully weigh the commitments and duties we have personally and to family against the responsibilities we must carry out in office,” Cushing wrote in a letter to his colleagues. “After much reflection, I feel at this time, I do not have the ability to continue the duties incumbent with a leadership role; therefore I feel it best to allow for the orderly transition to another to serve in this position.”

But Cushing is also involved in a heated familial dispute that is pending in court.

His sister, Laura Cushing McIntyre of Hermon, alleges in a lawsuit filed in Penobscot County Superior Court that Cushing transferred more than $1 million from a family business to his campaign and personal accounts. Additionally, Cushing was fined $9,000 last August by the Maine Ethics Commission for violating the state’s campaign finance laws in 2016 by filing records of campaign contributions nearly five months late in his re-election campaign and by misreporting filings on a leadership political action committee that he leads.

Volk declined to comment on Cushing’s resignation, apart calling him “a good friend” and that “he has done a lot for our party and for our caucus.”

She is serving her second term representing Senate District 30, which includes most of Scarborough and Buxton and all of Gorham, and previously represented House District 127 for two terms. Her husband works as president of the family’s business, Volk Packaging Corp., which has 90 employees.


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