May 24, 2018
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Whole new set of leaders for parties, committees

By Matt Wickenheiser, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA,  Maine — The shift of power in Maine’s Senate and House of Representatives also means the GOP will control important leadership positions such as the speaker of the House and Senate president.
In the Senate, current Minority Leader Kevin Raye, R-Perry, has been clear about his hope to take the president’s seat.
“I feel confident I will be Senate president,” Raye said Wednesday.
Raye, owner of the Down East business Raye’s Mustard, will be entering his fourth legislative session. As Senate minority leader, Raye has been front and center in negotiating with Democrats on policy and budgets, and in opposing them on a variety of initiatives, as well.
He’s not uncontested, however. Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport, said Wednesday he was talking to members of the caucus, gauging their support for him in a leadership role. Rosen has been the ranking Republican senator on the Appropriations Committee, working with his party and Democrats to hammer out unanimous support for bipartisan budgets in that committee. He said he’s interested in a leadership role, which could include Senate president, majority leader or even appropriations chairman.
Other names said to be in the mix for leadership positions are Sen. Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale, current assistant minority leader, and Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro. Neither returned calls for comment Wednesday. Courtney worked with Raye on coordinating campaign strategy for legislative candidates this year. Trahan led Republican efforts to run a people’s veto campaign that overturned a Democrat-backed tax restructuring package earlier this year.
Democratic leaders in the Senate didn’t return calls for comment Wednesday; it was unclear who might be interested in the minority leader role.
In the House, at least four representatives are interested in the speaker’s rostrum. Reps. Stacey Fitts, R-Pittsfield, Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, and Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, all confirmed their interest Wednesday.
Fitts, an engineering consultant, has served in three Legislatures, and was on the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Energy Future in the last Legislature.
“I think our caucus has some really good people, I think it’s important for our members to put our best foot forward,” said Fitts.
Davis served four terms in the Senate, and this will be his second term in the House. He was assistant floor leader in the Senate, and was minority leader in that body for four years.
Nutting, a five-term representative, has spent four years on the Appropriations Committee. He said he has good relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle, which will be important in a tight House, where margins of control are slight.
This will be Flood’s fourth term in the House. He serves on appropriations, and has supported several bond packages in the past, including ones that support the Land for Maine’s Future program.
For House Democrats, Emily Cain, D-Orono, and Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, are both in the run for minority leader. Cain was the House chair of appropriations, and Berry was the majority whip.
Republicans have set this Friday as the deadline for legislators to declare their interest in a leadership position. The party will caucus Nov. 12 to select leaders.
Democrats plan to caucus Nov. 18, but that may be moved up.

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