Republican Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough is defending the District 30 seat against former Democratic legislator Linda Sanborn of Gorham in the Nov. 6 election.

The battle for the Senate District 30 seat is among a handful of closely watched races that could determine which party controls the Maine Legislature for the next two years. Republicans currently have a one-seat majority in the Senate and Democrats have a three-seat lead in the House.

Both District 30 candidates have significant name recognition and experience, each having served four terms in the Legislature. Volk, a small-business owner, was a House member from 2011 to 2014 and has been a senator since 2015. Sanborn, a retired family physician, was a House member from 2009 to 2016.

Just how close the race might be was foreshadowed in the June primary elections, when both candidates were unopposed. Volk received 3,832 votes in the Republican primary, while Sanborn received 3,680 votes in the Democratic primary.

The District 30 seat represents all of Gorham and most of Scarborough and Buxton.

Volk was part of a Republican wave in November 2014 that re-elected Gov. Paul LePage to a second term and seized control of the Senate, where Volk ousted one-term Democratic incumbent James Boyle of Gorham. She held onto the District 30 seat in November 2016, when she was challenged by Democrat Jean-Marie Caterina, a Scarborough town councilor.

WHY THEY’RE RUNNING

Volk, who is assistant Senate majority leader, said she is seeking a third Senate term because she has proved that she is willing to compromise, able to work across the aisle with Democrats and responsive to constituents.

Volk pointed out that she voted against expanding Medicaid, or MaineCare, several times in the past, but she now supports it because a majority of District 30 voters last year agreed to extend health insurance to about 70,000 low-income Mainers. Though the ballot measure won nearly 60 percent of the statewide vote and would be paid for largely by the federal government, the LePage administration continues to fight the expansion in court.

“I think it’s something we need to do,” said Volk, 49, noting that conservative administrations in other states have recognized the benefits of Medicaid expansion.

Sanborn, 66, hasn’t wavered in her support for Medicaid expansion. She said she still believes in universal health care and, if elected, would strive to provide affordable health care for all.

Sanborn said she wasn’t planning to seek office again after she termed out of the House in 2016.

“I’ve just been so frustrated watching what’s going on in Augusta and across the country,” Sanborn said. “I can’t just sit back and complain. You’ve got to step up.”

Sanborn said she’s especially disturbed by racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and otherwise hateful rhetoric and discriminatory policies that are common in the current political climate.

Volk, who supports President Trump, took some heat in June when she tweeted a story she found “fascinating” about Charles Murray, a conservative political and social scientist whose views are considered racist by some. Volk defended herself, noting her support for legal immigrants, including asylum seekers.

“My support for Trump is very mixed,” Volk said. “I support his policies. I don’t support a lot of his rhetoric.”

ASSESSING POLICY DIFFERENCES

Policy areas where the candidates differ include climate action, alternative energy development, gun laws, preservation of voting rights and abortion rights, and the recent appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Sanborn said she believes Maine should “do everything it can” to fight climate change, including decreasing the use of fossil fuels and promoting alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, which she said also would help boost the state’s economy.

Volk said she believes climate policy isn’t a state-level concern. She said that it “needs to be addressed on a global scale,” where nations should share costs fairly, and that Maine should help develop hydro and biomass technology rather than solar and wind.

Regarding gun rights, Volk noted that she got a B-minus from the National Rifle Association because she has voted for some gun restrictions. Sanborn, who said her husband is a hunter, got a D from the NRA because she views gun violence as a public health issue and supports “common-sense gun laws” such as universal background checks.

On voting rights, Sanborn said she is confident in Maine’s current voting system and doesn’t support requiring voters to show identification at the polls. Volk said she “(doesn’t) think there is massive voter fraud,” but she supports requiring voters to show their IDs.

ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Concerning abortion, Volk said she believes women should be well informed before making a decision that could impact the rest of their lives, such as being offered an ultrasound and information about fetal development.

Sanborn called herself pro-choice and said abortion is a personal decision that shouldn’t be made by politicians. In light of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court, Sanborn said she believes Maine should take steps to ensure access to safe and affordable abortion services.

Sanborn said she was disappointed that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, supported Kavanaugh’s appointment and found it discouraging to hear continued debate over the truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Sanborn said she supported the #MeToo movement and would continue to be sensitive to women’s issues as a legislator.

Volk praised Collins for voting to confirm Kavanaugh. “I have a lot of sensitivity on that issue,” she said, “but I also have a lot of concern about bringing forward allegations without corroboration.”

Both candidates view education as a means of economic development. Sanborn said she supports funding education at all levels, from early childhood education to worker retraining, as a way to increase high-quality job opportunities and entice young people to stay in Maine.

Volk said she supports efforts to expand Maine’s workforce, promote higher education and keep and attract young people to the state. She also would continue to push for prison sentencing reforms and tougher human trafficking laws, she said.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS

Sanborn’s campaign has been financed by the state under the Maine Clean Election Act. She has received $65,899 in contributions and spent $61,080, according to the state’s campaign finance website.

Volk has raised $43,514 and spent $19,407 in a traditionally financed campaign. Contributors of $400 or more include Gorham Sand & Gravel; MaineHealth CEO William Caron of Cape Elizabeth; Gregg Isherwood, owner of Custom Coach and Limousine, Gorham; law firms Bernstein Shur and Pierce Atwood of Portland; developers Rocco Risbara, head of Risbara Bros. Construction, Paul Kosiell, head of CPM Constuctors, and William Miro, head of PCS Family Homes, all of Scarborough; Jonathan Smith, head of Great Falls Construction, of Gorham; James Brady of Portland and Ocean Properties of Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody; and various political action committees.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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Correction: This story was updated at 4:15 Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018 to correct an error in a campaign finance report.