Two popular Republican lawmakers have announced their intentions to run for Senate District 27, covering most of Piscataquis County, nine towns in Somerset County and six in western Penobscot County.
State Sen. Doug Thomas of Ripley filed his intentions with the Secretary of State to seek a third term on Friday, Nov. 1, the same day that State Rep. Paul Davis of Sangerville said he was also running for the seat.
Thomas represents District 27, which will become District 4 in 2014 after legislators redrew legislative district maps this spring.
Davis said that Thomas originally told him he was not seeking re-election, so he made his plans accordingly.
“We were at a governor’s social function this summer, and he asked me what my intentions were,” Davis said. “I told Doug that I was seriously thinking of not running for re-election to the House. In August at the Dover-Foxcroft Homecoming, he asked me again, and I told him that I was going to run for the Senate; and he said that he’d support me if I choose to run.”
In October, however, Davis said that they met at Dunkin Donuts in Dexter, chatted for a while and Thomas said he changed his mind. “So I told him, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to have a primary.’ That was the end of the conversation,” Davis said.
Thomas confirmed that he did consider not running for re-election at the end of the 126th Legislature. “I just got tired of the partisan bickering and the personal attacks. It’s not much fun when you drive around your district and see ‘Dump Doug’ stickers on people’s vehicles,” Thomas said.
He said that some of Davis’ supporters tried to convince him to run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Dean Cray of Palmyra. “But we’ve got two small business owners who are looking at that seat – Joel Stetkis (of Canaan) and Duane Littlefield (of Hartland),” Thomas said. “So I wouldn’t do anything to spoil their chances.”
Thomas said that he and Davis first discussed running for the Maine Senate about 15 years ago “and I stepped aside on his behalf. But I’m not doing it this time. Voters will have a choice between a state senator with 40 years’ experience in the private sector or a retired state employee.”
Davis, a Dexter Regional High School and UMaine graduate, is a retired state trooper and chief deputy of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department. He served in the State Senate from 2000 to 2006, was elected Republican floor leader and returned to the Maine House six years ago. He has served both as chair and the senior GOP member of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.
He is also on the Government Oversight Committee, which reviews programs and makes recommendations to the full Legislature about their effectiveness.
“My parents, Howard and Avis Davis, ran a small business — the Titcomb-Davis store in Dexter. I learned firsthand the difficulties a small business has and how hard it is to make a living in central Maine,” Davis said.
Thomas, a firewood dealer, was re-elected to his second term in the Maine Senate last year. Previously, he served three terms in the Maine House representing Athens, Harmony, Ripley, Dexter, Garland and Charleston.
Before being elected to the Legislature, Thomas served as a selectman in his hometown of Ripley and on the School Administrative District 46 board of directors.
Thomas has served on the Transportation Committee for six years, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Maine Turnpike Authority. He also served on the Labor Committee for two years.
No Democratic candidates have announced their intentions to run for Senate District 27 yet.
An earlier version of this story requires clarification. Although Doug Thomas currently represents Senate District 27, that will become District 4 in 2014 after legislators redrew legislative district maps this spring.