In Maine’s 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of North Haven surged to a commanding lead over Republican candidate Mark Holbrook of Brunswick and independent Marty Grohman of Biddeford early Wednesday morning.

Pingree, who has held the seat since 2009, has been a sharp critic of President Trump in a district that skews in favor of Democrats. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, with 79 percent of the vote tabulated, Pingree stood at 58 percent, Holbrook 33 percent and Grohman 9 percent.

“That’s my number!” sang Pat Colwell of Pat Colwell and the Soul Sensations as the numbers rolled in at the Democratic election night party at the Aura nightclub in Portland.

While the race hadn’t yet been officially called late Tuesday, Pingree gave what appeared to be a victory speech, saying that “it’s about time” Democrats returned to power. CBS and NBC news were projecting that Democrats would re-take the House of Representatives from Republicans.

“I am going to be a check on the president,” Pingree said, citing climate change, the opioid crisis and health care as major issues to tackle when Democrats control the House next year.

Earlier on Election Day, a relaxed Pingree greeted voters at Reiche Community School in Portland, where voters packed the hallway around 5 p.m. She said everywhere she went – including Biddeford, Scarborough and Brunswick – polling locations were experiencing strong turnout.


“It’s a great sign for democracy,” Pingree said, referring to turnout.

Pingree attended the election night party alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills. Bands played a mix of blues, soul and rock while party-goers awaited results.

Grohman’s strategy seemed to be to go after Holbrook’s Republican voters and centrists and take advantage of Maine’s new ranked choice voting, which theoretically would benefit centrists and independents. In ranked choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference. But it doesn’t come into play if one of the candidates secures a majority vote on the first ballot, as Pingree seemed poised to do.

Grohman was significantly outraised by the incumbent, with Pingree raising $680,348 through Oct. 15, compared to $328,044 by Grohman and $85,691 for Holbrook. Of Grohman’s campaign contributions, $200,000 of the total was his own money.

The lightly-polled race was deemed a hold for Pingree by the Cook Political Report, and two polls showed Grohman in single digits and Holbrook not threatening Pingree.

Issues in the race centered on Trump’s policies to undermine the Affordable Care Act, Chinese tariffs on live lobsters and Grohman attacking Pingree over defense spending votes regarding Bath Iron Works.

Grohman also went after Holbrook by claiming Holbrook had falsely portrayed himself as a psychologist. Holbrook, a licensed counselor who has a doctorate degree in psychology, called Grohman’s attacks “loathsome.”

But the race got friendlier toward the end, with Grohman handing out gifts to Pingree and Holbrook during the last debate on Oct. 30.

Holbrook’s quirky campaign included a “swamp creature” YouTube video, complete with images of alligators, President Trump, suitcases stuffed with cash and someone emerging from a swamp.

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