A look at governor races with open seats

Posted July 11, 2009, at 1:56 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — History shows Blaine House openings lead to crowded fields when the occupant is awaiting the moving truck.

In the contest to succeed two-term Democratic Gov. Joseph Brennan, the 1986 gubernatorial primary elections featured five Democrats and two Republicans. Two independents joined in the general election race, which was won by Republican John R. McKernan.

In 1994, the race was the most crowded in recent memory.

An eight-way Republican gubernatorial primary ensued as McKernan was concluding a second term. For the Democrats, it was a five-way primary contest. In the end, neither of the major parties, nor the Green Independent Party, won the general election. Instead, it was won by independent Angus King.

For this election cycle, none of the entrants has scared off others as Gov. John Baldacci was seemingly able to do within his own party two elections ago as King’s second term came to an end.

Baldacci ended up unopposed in his primary before the 2002 election, and there were only two GOP gubernatorial candidates as Peter Cianchette won his primary. Baldacci defeated Cianchette, as well as the Green Independent Party candidate and an independent in the general election.

As potential candidates mull their options this year, no roster can be thought of as complete. And the only certainty is that the official roster of candidates will certainly grow.

“I do think it’s wide open,” House Speaker Hannah Pingree said.

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