AUGUSTA, Maine — Five candidates for the Maine Senate and 43 candidates for seats in the Maine House have taken their names out of the running, leaving political committees in their districts in charge of finding candidates to take their places by July 23.
The 48 candidates for the state Legislature withdrew from their races by a Monday deadline that allows local political party committees to replace them by July 23, according to the Maine secretary of state’s office. Some 13 legislative candidates — two Senate contenders and 11 House candidates — filed their withdrawal notices with the secretary of state on Monday, just in time to make the deadline.
The withdrawals leave four House districts — covering Augusta, Brunswick, Kittery and South Portland — without any candidates at all, though political committees in those areas either have scheduled caucuses to select replacement candidates or already selected replacements for the November ballot.
Maine election law allows candidates who succeed in party primaries to withdraw by the second Monday in July, which enables party committees in their regions to choose replacement candidates by the fourth Monday in July.
The number of withdrawals for the 2012 cycle is consistent with numbers for past election years. In 2004, five state Senate candidates and 35 House candidates dropped their bids for office after succeeding in primaries. In 2008, nine Senate candidates and 41 House candidates withdrew after the primary vote, according to data from the secretary of state’s office.
Many candidates who ultimately withdraw are considered paper candidates, often party activists who qualify for the primary ballot and intend to withdraw afterward. Maine’s political parties use paper candidates as a way to secure their spots on the general election ballot and buy themselves additional time to recruit willing candidates.
The House districts left without candidates after Monday’s withdrawal deadline include House District 57 in northwestern Augusta, where incumbent Rep. Maeghan Maloney, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Andrew Worcester withdrew soon after the June 12 primary.
Worcester withdrew after defeating Michael Hein, who is serving seven days in jail this month after pleading guilty last week in Kennebec County Superior Court to one count of willfully violating the Maine Clean Election Act. The Maine attorney general’s office said Hein encouraged at least 15 voters to falsely claim they made personal contributions to qualify him for public campaign funding.
Augusta Republicans on Monday unanimously chose Matt Pouliot to take Worcester’s place on the November ballot, said Mark Ellis, a member of the Augusta City Republican Committee. Pouliot is vice chairman of the Augusta Planning Board and an area Realtor.
Maloney withdrew to run for district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties. Augusta Democrats meet Wednesday night to select a replacement.
House District 66 in Brunswick — which had contenders from the Democratic, Green-Independent and Republican parties — also saw all of its candidates withdraw after the June primary.
Green-Independents in the area already have replaced David Frans with Frederick Horch, Republicans meet on Thursday to replace John Bouchard and Brunswick Democrats meet Saturday to replace Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx.
Cornell du Houx filed his withdrawal notice on July 2, citing an active duty assignment with the U.S. Navy that begins in January 2013, around the time a new Legislature will start work in Augusta. His withdrawal followed weeks of speculation that he would withdraw from the race after Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, filed a temporary protection from abuse order against him.
Herbig’s lawyer withdrew the temporary order after the two parties signed a private agreement. The Bangor Daily News reported last week that the agreement included a provision that said Cornell du Houx would drop his re-election bid.
House District 124 in the South Portland area and District 151 in the Kittery area also saw all of their candidates withdraw after the primary.
In Bangor’s House District 17, Rep. Sara Stevens, a Democratic member of the Appropriations Committee, dropped out of her race on Monday, saying in a Facebook post, “Time with our sweet daughter is too precious, and I can’t picture myself making anything else a top priority.”