PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney held off a surprisingly strong challenge by Portland City Committee Chairman Patrick Calder to win the Republican nomination to compete in the race for Maine’s 1st District U.S. House seat, according to unofficial results tabulated by the Bangor Daily News.

Each candidate said Wednesday a recount request is unlikely, regardless of who is ultimately named the official winner. Calder announced a press conference Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Pat’s Pizza in Portland, where Courtney held his election night party Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting, Courtney bested Calder by 276 votes, according to the BDN’s unofficial results.

“I’m proud of the results,” Calder told the BDN Wednesday morning, “but I’m just not sure it’s worth pushing it” with a recount.

Calder maintained a lead much of Tuesday evening, but late numbers from Sanford, Lyman and several small towns put Courtney over the top by just a few hundred votes. The election ended up hinging on small towns such as Arrowsic, Georgetown, Baldwin and Limerick.

Going into the race, many political analysts assumed Courtney, a state lawmaker for 10 years, would defeat the relatively unknown Calder by a wide margin. But the Portland mariner and chairman of the city’s Republican City Committee entered the race three months before Courtney and quickly established himself as articulate and well-versed in political issues.

Calder announced his candidacy in late January, while Courtney officially launched his campaign in early May.

“We came on late, we kicked off the campaign a month before the election, so we had to make up some ground and we knew it,” Courtney said. “If you look at the results closely, and you look at the towns I did really, really well in, they’re the towns where people know me. If you look at the towns where I didn’t do so well, they’re the towns where people didn’t know me as well. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.”

Calder said his campaign appealed to voters who were disenfranchised with politics.

The campaign “wasn’t just about me talking to people, it was me listening to people,” he said. “It wasn’t political posturing, it wasn’t partisan, it was simple common sense, and I think that resonated with people.”

Both candidates said they would support the other in the general election.

“You have a hard-fought and close race, but when the dust settles, we’re both on the same side, and I think that shows the commitment we both have to showing the voters they deserve something better than what they have now” in Congress, Calder said.

“It really isn’t about the person, it’s about what we’re trying to do,” Courtney said. “Patrick and I share a vision for how we should be represented in Congress. Either Patrick or I would be a good step in the right direction for changing that.”


Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.