Election aftermath: Five subplots to 2012’s big stories

By Robert Long, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 11, 2012, at 2:15 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In addition to a bevy of tight elections, a history-making referendum and power shifts at the Maine State House and — to a lesser extent — in Washington, D.C., Tuesday’s election yielded other changes in Maine’s political landscape. Here are five:

Women in the Senate

During her campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Democrat Cynthia Dill argued that electing more women to the Senate would better reflect the nation’s demographics, social value and workforce needs.

That argument did not win over Maine voters, who gave Dill just 13 percent of the vote in a six-person race won handily by independent Angus King. But the new U.S. Senate that takes office in January will feature a record number of female senators. The incoming Senate will include 20 women, an increase of three over the current 17 who now serve in the chamber.

Five women — four Democrats and one Republican — won entry into the Senate on Tuesday. With the re-election of other female senators — including Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who pundits deemed destined for near-certain defeat until her Republican opponent, Rep. Todd Akin, talked about “legitimate rape” in August — one in five members of the next Senate will be women.

Of that group, 16 are Democrats and four are Republicans. With the retirements of Snowe and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Maine Sen. Susan Collins will become the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate. Overall, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who was first elected in 1986, ranks as the senior female senator in terms of consecutive service.

When the five new female U.S. senators — Democrats Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, along with Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska — take office, they will increase to 44 the number of women who have served as U.S. senators.

With King’s election to succeed Snowe, Maine’s two U.S. senators will no longer be women for the first time since Collins won election to the Senate in 1996. Three states, Washington, California and New Hampshire — where the entire congressional delegation will be women in 2013 — are represented by two female U.S. senators.

Double defeats

Two of Maine’s Republican candidates for federal office on Tuesday, Jon Courtney in the 1st Congressional District and Charlie Summers in the U.S. Senate race, shared election night disappointment with family members.

Courtney’s son, Adam Courtney, lost his first bid for elective office in District 143 in the Maine House of Representatives, which covers part of Sanford, to Democrat Anne-Marie Mastraccio by about 275 votes. Like his dad, Adam Courtney is a Republican.

Summers’ wife, Ruth, also a Republican, lost to Democrat James Boyle in the contest to succeed Dill in Maine Senate District 6.

At least the Courtneys and Ruth and Charlie Summers could console each other. In Bath, Kyle Rogers, a Republican candidate in Maine House District 62, lost that race to Democrat Jennifer DeChant and also lost his Bath City Council re-election bid to Carolyn Lockwood by 32 votes, according to unofficial ballot tallies.

Nationally, another married Republican couple — Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California and Rep. Connie Mack IV of Florida, who ran for the U.S. Senate in that state — also both fell to Democrats in this year’s elections.

Bucking the trend somewhat, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives from his district in Wisconsin.

Non-party people

The incoming Maine Legislature will include five members who belong to neither the Republican or Democratic parties. That’s the highest total of legislators from outside the two major parties since at least 1911, which is the earliest year for which the Maine House of Representatives lists party breakdowns.

The next highest total occurred in the 2005-06 Legislature, when one Green and three unenrolled lawmakers served.

Sen. Richard Woodbury, of Yarmouth, who won re-election in Senate District 11, stands to be the sole independent member of that 35-person body.

Independents elected to the Maine House of Representatives include Joseph Brooks in District 42, Jeffrey Evangelos in District 49, Rep. Ben Chipman in District 119 and James Campbell in District 138.

Chipman is the only one of the four to win a three-person contest. Brooks, Evangelos and Campbell defeated Republicans in races that did not include a Democrat on the ballot.

In a release issued Saturday, Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives listed their projected 2013 party breakdown of that chamber as 89 Democrats, 58 Republicans and four unenrolled (“leaning Democrat”) members.

Maine’s Left Coast

After the 126th Maine Legislature takes office, travelers navigating Maine’s coast by road, rail or boat will be able to go from Kennebunk to Camden without passing through one inch of land represented by a Republican in the Maine Senate. Democrats and independent Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth won in every Senate district that includes coastal property between Kennebunk and Camden.

Republican Ronald Collins in Senate District 2, which includes Wells, establishes the GOP’s southern Senate foothold. Lincolnville in Senate District 23, where Republican Michael Thibodeau won re-election, is the next community up the coast that can claim a GOP senator.

Overseas overturn?

In Saturday’s release about the party breakdown of the incoming 126th Legislature, Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives stated that overseas absentee ballots had tipped the race in House District 70 from Republican Bruce Bickford to Democrat Wayne Werts.

Unofficial vote tallies sent to the BDN after Tuesday’s election showed Bickford with a four-vote lead in the district that covers part of Auburn. Democrats now claim that Werts won by two votes.

The Maine secretary of state’s office and municipal offices are closed until Tuesday in observance of Veterans Day.

A recount in District 70 is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, according to the House Democrats’ release.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/11/politics/election-aftermath-five-subplots-to-2012s-big-stories/ printed on July 25, 2014