BANGOR, Maine — Even with Hermon voters supporting newcomer Cary Weston, 1,535 to 1,110, Maine Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, still had enough votes to defeat the Republican challenger for state Senate District 9.
Bangor voters chose Gratwick, 5,427 votes to 4,354, and the final tally for the two-community district was Gratwick with 6,537 or 52.61 percent of the ballots, and Weston with 5,889 votes or 47.39 percent.
“I’m very pleased how the election came out for Bangor,” Gratwick said Wednesday, while taking a short phone break between seeing patients at his doctor’s clinic. “I think Bangor will be very well represented by the four incumbents. I think we represent a progressive but middle-of-the-road coalition that has worked very well, uniquely well for Bangor.”
Gratwick said, “I wish the election results were different” in regard to the governor’s office.
“It’s going to be a very difficult time in Augusta because I think the governor is often hard to work with in areas that I care about — affordable healthcare for everybody, increasing the minimum wage and education issues.
“I, however, recognize that the people of Maine and Bangor want everyone in Augusta to work well together and I’m committed to doing that,” he said. “I’m willing to discuss these issues for as long that is necessary to come up with solutions that are good for Maine.”
Weston, the owner of a small communications and marketing firm, and Gratwick served on the Bangor City Council together for three years.
At a protest in Bangor against LePage’s voting records on chemical products last month, Gratwick handed out copies of a bill he plans to submit to protect children from harmful chemicals.
“Environmental issues is another one that requires a lot of give and take,” Gratwick said. “Maine can’t afford to fall back into the pattern of partisan politics.”
The District 9 state Senate race became contentious at times, but that often resulted from outsiders rather than the candidates themselves.
Gratwick found himself embroiled in controversy in September when the Maine GOP released an edited audio recording in which he said gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was “not a brain guy” and that in a head-to-head vote he would pick independent Eliot Cutler over Michaud. Republicans ran with that statement in hopes of swaying voters away from Michaud.
Gratwick ran as a publicly financed Maine Clean Election Act candidate, meaning that his campaign was limited in how much it could spend. However, that did not preclude outside groups from spending on his behalf. And spend they did.
Late in the campaign cycle, expensive anti-Weston ad buys by the Maine Democratic Party targeted Weston’s use of his own marketing company to produce and print his own campaign materials. Weston is running a privately funded campaign and has said he doesn’t agree with using taxpayer money to finance elections.
Weston countered the advertising with videos on social media decrying what he called misleading and negative claims. A message left Wednesday for Weston was not immediately returned.
Gratwick supports the expansion of Medicaid; believes that the governor shouldn’t be allowed to delay the sale of voter-approved general obligation bonds; would support legalizing and taxing marijuana; and believes charter schools could be too costly and should be carefully studied.
BDN reporter Nick McCrea contributed to this story.