AUGUSTA, Maine — Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, announced Thursday that he plans to step down from his legislative post in December, about two months after he officially takes over the state’s largest sportsmen’s lobbying group.
Pending a final vote next week by the board of directors for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Trahan said he will become the group’s executive director on Oct. 3.
“I will resign as a member of the Maine Senate, likely in December, before the start of the second session of the 125th Legislature,” Trahan said in a statement. “Immediately following the final vote of SAM’s Board, I will submit to the Maine Senate President my resignation from the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.”
Trahan said the transition timeline allows him both to participate in the Legislature’s special session in September on congressional redistricting and to complete work on a bill that seeks to rewrite Maine’s tax laws. Trahan, the Senate chairman of the Taxation Committee, has long advocated for tax reform in Maine and wants another bite at the apple while his party holds a majority in the House and Senate and also controls the Blaine House.
“Since 1998, much of my time in both the Maine Senate and Maine House of Representatives has been devoted to tax issues,” Trahan said. “I see the completion of my work on this task as a fitting close to my years representing the wonderful people of Lincoln County and the entire State of Maine.”
Last month, Trahan met with staff at the Maine Ethics Commission to address any possible conflicts of interest that might arise during his transition out of the Legislature.
Nothing in state law prohibits a legislator from acting as a lobbyist, but Ethics Commission Director Jonathan Wayne said the practice is generally frowned upon. A memo authored in 1986 by then-Assistant Attorney General William Stokes concludes that doing both would constitute a conflict of interest.
Trahan has held the Senate seat in District 20, which includes most of Lincoln County, since 2008. Prior to that, he served four terms in the House of Representatives.
Once Trahan steps down, the process of filling his seat will begin, but it is likely that a special election would not happen until after the 125h Legislature resumes in January.
Among those considered for Trahan’s Senate seat are Rep. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, who held the seat from 2004 to 2008 and Rep. Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle, who is serving his fourth term in the House.
For Democrats, former Senate candidate Chris Johnson of Somerville and state Rep. Bruce MacDonald of Boothbay have been mentioned as possible candidates.
Since Republicans hold a 20-14 majority in the Senate, the outcome of that special election will not tip the balance.
Trahan takes over the Sportsm a n’s Alliance of Maine from interim director Matthew Dunlap. Longtime SAM Executive Director George Smith stepped down in late 2010 as head of the 14,000-member organization.
In an interview last month, Trahan said as SAM’s director he plans to focus on encouraging investment in the state’s fish hatcheries, restoring the deer herd and encouraging more young people to get involved in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
A logger by trade, Trahan admitted last month that he has grown weary of the political climate in Maine and specifically questioned the role of the Tea Party in the discourse.
“The tone … of politics today is very harsh and it did play a role in my decision to do something different,” he said.