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Embattled Brunswick lawmaker Alex Cornell du Houx withdraws from House race

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Alex Cornell du Houx speaks with the Bangor Daily News in Brunswick May 24, 2012.
By Christopher Cousins and Matthew Stone, BDN Staff

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Embattled Democratic lawmaker Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx said Friday that he has withdrawn his name from the November election ballot.

Jodi Quintero, spokeswoman for the House Democratic Office, confirmed Friday that Cornell du Houx, who represents part of Brunswick in the Maine House of Representatives, has ended his bid for re-election. Cornell du Houx announced his intentions in a commentary published Friday by The Times Record in Brunswick. Robert Long, the newspaper’s managing editor, confirmed that the column was legitimate and that Cornell du Houx had submitted the commentary to The Times Record exclusively.

Calls to the secretary of state’s elections division Friday afternoon were not immediately returned.

Cornell du Houx cited a new assignment with the U.S. Navy, which begins in January, as his primary reason for pulling out of the race, though he also alluded to a recent controversy involving a protection from abuse order that was sought by Belfast Rep. Erin Herbig.

“Maine’s Legislature convenes in January 2013 at the same time I have orders from the Navy to report for active duty starting Jan. 8,” wrote Cornell du Houx. “When on active duty, I am prohibited from working in any political manner, as members of the military are sworn to protect the Constitution and follow the orders of our civilian political leaders. I won’t be able to be at the State House to properly represent my constituents of District 66.”

In early May, Herbig requested a temporary protection from abuse order against Cornell du Houx, whom she claimed had harassed her after the two had ended a romantic relationship. Herbig subsequently withdrew the order under an agreement that was not made public. Since then, there has been widespread speculation that Cornell du Houx would withdraw from the race after the June primary election, but he denied until Friday that he would do so. He told the Bangor Daily News in late May that he intended to remain a candidate.

Earlier this month, Cornell du Houx surprised Democratic Party leaders when he said he would continue his re-election bid. In his commentary, Cornell du Houx alluded to the conflict he has been in the midst of though he said that his name was cleared when the order was dropped and a Maine State Police investigation was abandoned.

“I had requested an active duty date that did not coincide with the legislative session, but no slots were available, so I was assigned to Jan. 8,” he wrote. “I could go through the process and request another date. However, the events of late have given me time to consider the best way to continue in public service while I move forward with my future. I have chosen to take this opportunity to serve my community, state and nation by progressing my career in the Navy.”

Cornell du Houx, 29, a Gulf War veteran who is now in Australia, is a public affairs officer for the Navy Reserve’s U.S. Central Command for Middle East operations.

Now it’s up to members of the Brunswick Democratic Town Committee who live in House District 66 to choose a Democrat to take Cornell du Houx’s place on the November ballot. The committee faces a July 23 deadline to make that choice.

Andy Cashman, the committee’s chairman, said he’ll schedule a nominating caucus once he receives official notice from the secretary of state’s office that Cornell du Houx has withdrawn.

Cashman said Friday that the committee appreciates Cornell du Houx’s service. “Now, we’re focused on looking to find the best candidate we can to replace him on the November ballot,” he said.

While some Democrats have expressed interest in Cornell du Houx’s seat, Cashman said he hasn’t received official notice from anybody who plans to seek the nomination. He encouraged any potential candidates to notify him of their interest.

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