GARDINER, Maine — Daniel Bates, the Republican candidate for a House seat in the Gardiner area, died unexpectedly Saturday of a heart attack, according to his wife, Beth Bates.
Bates, 61, of Gardiner was facing Democrat Gay Grant in the race to replace Rep. Steve Hanley, who is barred from running for re-election due to term limits, in House District 59.
“I’m very blessed that he died right in my arms,” Beth Bates said Monday. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Bates ran his own law practice in Gardiner where he practiced unemployment law, said Eileen Drennen, his sister-in-law. He was also a gifted poet and watercolor painter, she said.
“He was an incredible painter,” Drennen said. “He was the kind of guy who would come to visit you and make you a portrait before he left.”
In 2005, Bates published the “Ballad of the Beantowne Bosox,” a 65-page, epic poem with a Maine twist that recounted the Red Sox’s historic 2004 season when the team won its first World Series championship in 86 years. Bates published a second edition of the book in cooperation with Maine humorist Gary Crocker, who recorded Bates’ verse in a thick, Down East accent, according to a 2006 Associated Press article.
Beth Bates described her husband as a loving and generous person committed to public service. He served as vice president of the Gardiner Library Association.
Public service “was a very big part of his life,” she said. “He was very excited about the campaign.”
Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement that Bates “will be missed dearly.”
“I was campaigning with him in Gardiner just last week, and I witnessed how closely he listened to residents who greeted him so warmly,” Collins said.
Bates’ death comes during a campaign season when both parties are battling for control of the Legislature. Republicans currently control the House with 77 seats. Democrats have 70 members, two are unenrolled, and two seats are vacant.
Megan Sanborn, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said it’s too late to replace Bates’ name on absentee ballots. The office will officially declare a vacancy later this week, however, and local Republicans will be able to choose a replacement candidate whose name will appear on election day ballots, Sanborn said.
A public service for Bates is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Staples Funeral Home in Gardiner.