MACHIAS, Maine — With 16 of the 50 Washington County towns and cities reporting late Tuesday, Sheriff Donnie Smith appears to have been re-elected handily for a second four-year term as an independent in a county that traditionally votes Republican.
As of 11 p.m., Smith had garnered 65 percent of the votes cast, while challenger Dale Earle of Calais had received about 35 percent. At that hour, 1,102 voters had cast their ballots for Smith, while 603 voted for Earle.
In the five races for House seats, the single Senate race, and the three-way race for Washington-Hancock County district attorney, Republican candidates in Washington County were leading their Democratic challengers at 11 p.m.
Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud maintained a lead for the 2nd District seat.
Also in Washington County, the referendum and bond questions were being defeated.
Reached at his Calais home late Tuesday, Earle said he was not ready to concede and preferred to wait until the votes from Calais, Eastport and Baileyville — large voting blocks — came in.
At his Lubec home, Smith said he agreed it was too early to call the race but said, “I certainly want to thank all the people in Washington County for their support.”
Smith of Lubec, 57, campaigned heavily on his record and Tuesday night credited Washington County residents with providing invaluable assistance to the Sheriff’s Office.
“My greatest assets are the people of this county,” Smith said. “When the people help us and get involved, we succeed.”
Just this week, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was ranked the department with the highest crime clearance rate in the state.
Smith said his major challenges in the next few years are budgeting and finances in a tough economy.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has a $3 million budget and 49 employees, including support staff, corrections officers and deputies.