Candidate who lost Democratic primary for Maine House seat by 9 votes undecided on recount bid

Posted June 12, 2014, at 11:54 a.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Jackie Sartoris, the candidate who fell short by nine votes in the Democratic primary race for state House District 50, said Thursday morning she is uncertain if she will request a recount.

After Tuesday’s initial ballot count, candidate Ralph Tucker led Sartoris, 441-432.

Sartoris said she is still mulling a recount, and is conferring with supporters about the decision. She has until Tuesday to request a recount from the secretary of state.

Despite the thin margin in the race, Sartoris said she doesn’t believe a recount would change the result.

“We did everything we could and I think we ran an honorable race,” Sartoris said. “It really does show you that every vote counts.”

The two candidates competed to replace Charlie Priest to represent an eastern portion of Brunswick at the State House. Unless a recount overturns Tuesday’s results, Tucker is slated to face Republican Mark Holbrook in the November general election.

Tucker, in an interview Tuesday night, said he was not making any predictions about the outcome of the race, but expressed confidence that the final tally would remain the same.

“I think that’s likely, especially with machine-counted ballots, trying to move it nine votes might be tough,” he said.

Although Sartoris was ahead by 18 votes at Tuesday’s polls, Tucker narrowly closed the gap with absentee ballots, winning 27 more than Sartoris, who acknowledged her campaign had not used an absentee ballot strategy during the election.

The prolonged race between Tucker and Sartoris has been highly competitive and at times contentious. Tucker announced his candidacy more than a year ago, and Sartoris advertised her run last October.

Tucker is a retired district court judge, former state worker’s compensation commissioner and a long-time Democratic party insider.

In an interview last month, he identified education as his top priority and said his political connections and experience in state government would make him an effective legislator.

In late May, Tucker received a primary endorsement from the Maine AFL-CIO, a powerful labor union in the state.

Tucker spent heavily on the campaign, eventually expending more than $11,000, including buying radio and TV spots, according to a May 31 campaign finance report filed with the elections commission. About $2,300 of his spending was from in-kind donations.

Sartoris, in comparison, ran a shoestring campaign as a Maine clean-elections candidate. As of her last filing on May 30, Sartoris had spent a little more than $800 on her campaign.

Now an attorney specializing in elder law, Sartoris worked for years as a policymaker in New York City and Augusta. She was elected to the Brunswick Town Council in 2000 and served four terms.

In an interview last month, she said she wanted to push legislation featuring sustainability in the economy, education and other areas and highlighted her ability to build consensus as a reason she would be an effective legislator.

The primary race has frequently been contentious, with complaints of ethics violations on both sides.

In March, Tucker was accused of violating the town’s zoning ordinance by placing campaign signs on several lawns during the Democratic Party caucus. In an interview last month, Tucker said he was surprised the issue raised so much controversy and called the sign ordinance unconstitutional, a position recently echoed by the town’s attorney.

Last month, Sartoris stepped down from the Brunswick Sewer Board of Trustees, claiming that a conflict of interest provision in the Town Council’s appointment policy was being used by the chairman of the town’s Republican committee to cast her in a negative light during the primary.

The controversy reached a high pitch in the final days of the election, after an email from Sartoris to the head of the Brunswick Democratic Committee in which she sharply criticized the ethics of Tucker’s campaign tactics appeared on a local blog, leading to a debate over ethics on a local radio station on Saturday.

 

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