Robert Foley

WELLS — Republican Robert Foley of Wells, an insurance salesman and former Wells town selectman who is serving his second term as a state representative, will return to Augusta as a senator.

In Tuesday’s election, he won the race for Senate District 34 seat, which includes Acton, Kennebunk, Lebanon, North Berwick, Wells and part of Berwick, against Democrat Thomas J. Wright of Berwick. Republican Ronald Collins of Wells, who currently holds the position was unable to run again because of term limits.

The vote was 10,442 to 9,710 in Foley’s favor.

When reached by phone midday Wednesday he was taking a break from picking up election signs. He said he wasn’t sure until the last ballots came in from the town of Lebanon — he received those results about 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday — whether or not he was the winner, as the election had been neck and neck to that point.

Foley said both he and his opponent faced an uphill battle during the election.

“When running for an open Senate seat in towns where they don’t have a knowledge of you … it’s a tough task,” he said.

The political scene will be a little different when he goes back to Augusta, Foley said, as the Democrats will have control of the governorship as well as both the House and Senate.

However, he said, he’s had practice working across the aisle as a member of the House where Democrats have been in the majority.

He said working in the Senate in the minority will be easier than in the House as there are fewer members to deal with.

In his two terms serving in the State House, Foley said, he has developed good relationships with legislators in the opposing party and feels confident those positive relations will continue.

One of the issues he feels most strongly about is rising health care costs, both for prescription drugs and insurance rates.

Regarding the rising cost of health care Foley said in an email before the election, “health care has been at the forefront of each legislative session,” during his four-year tenure in the Legislature. “I currently serve on a health care task force that is evaluating options for Maine,” he said. “I believe that each state should be allowed to design its own health care system, including health care coverage for all. Slowing down the high cost of pharmaceuticals and the unnecessary duplicative testing would be a starting point. The system is too costly to manage with too many bureaucratic layers. A simplified universal reporting system for all claims and a standardized health insurance policy used by all would eliminate unneeded administrative costs.”

Foley said he’s hopeful progress can be made on this issue.

“I think there is bipartisan support to work on health care,” Foley said.

— Associated Editor Dina Mendros can be reached at 780-9014 or [email protected]

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