By Francis X. Quinn
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Democrats touted Election Day results Wednesday that they said show them expanding an already large margin of control in the state House of Representatives and the bare one-vote edge they have held in the state Senate.
Unofficial tallies suggest the Democrats boosted their number of seats in the 151-member House from 90 to 96. In the 35-member Senate, Democratic and Republican election monitors believe Democrats may have expanded their numbers from 18 to 20.
Voting figures are still unofficial and recounts in some contests are likely.
The tentative composition of the new Senate would be 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans. The new House would be composed of 96 Democrats, 54 Republicans and one independent.
“We protected our majority and we also defeated two Republican incumbents,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Mitchell, the former House speaker from Vassalboro who is in line to become president of the new Senate.
The two Republican incumbents whose survival hopes may depend on recount reversals are Lois Snowe-Mello of Poland and Paula Benoit of Phippsburg.
In the House, incumbents who apparently lost include one Democrat — Timothy Carter of Bethel — and seven Republicans — Donna Wallace Finley of Skowhegan, Bonnie Gould of South Berwick, Donald Marean of Hollis, John McDonough of Scarborough, Gary Wayne Moore of Standish, Michael Vaughan of Durham and Robert Walker of Lincolnville.
Nationally, the National Conference of State Legislatures said voters reversed a recent trend by electing the fewest number of politically divided legislatures since 1982.
Democrats took control of the New York Senate for the first time since 1966 and now command all of New York state government for the first time since 1935, according to the NCSL, which noted that Barack Obama will be the first former member of NCSL to become president of the United States.
Also noteworthy was voting in New Hampshire where women took a 13-11 majority in the state Senate. The NCSL said it is the first time a state legislative chamber will be composed of more women than men.
Maine lawmakers will soon cast ballots in a whole new round of elections to select presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives and choose an attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer and state auditor.
Incoming legislators are sworn in on Dec. 3.
The new House is expected to be led as speaker by the current Democratic majority leader, Hannah Pingree of North Haven.
“Tuesday’s overwhelming victories for Democrats in the State House show that in these uncertain times, Maine people put their trust in Democrats to lead, and that is something we don’t take lightly,” Pingree said in a statement Wednesday.
Democrats have been on a winning streak in general elections for the House since 1974. Republicans have held the Senate outright for only one two-year period since the 1982 elections.