AUGUSTA, Maine — A Biddeford state senator announced that he will resign on Thursday to try to recover from alcohol abuse, which should set off a special election before November.
The resignation of Sen. David Dutremble, a Democrat, could set off a scramble for the seat representing Biddeford, Alfred, Kennebunkport, Dayton and Lyman. The two candidates who have already filed to run for his seat in the November election said Wednesday that they would run in a special election.
The Maine Constitution requires the governor to call a prompt election to fill a Senate vacancy, and Gov. Paul LePage told reporters in Lewiston that while he hadn’t been notified of Dutremble’s resignation by Wednesday afternoon, he’d call a special election as soon as he gets official notice.
Dutremble, a firefighter and second-term senator, announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t seek re-election, telling the Journal Tribune that he wanted to spend more time with family.
But he announced his resignation in a Wednesday statement that said he has been battling alcohol abuse and though he “thought this was a demon I could fight alone,” he “learned the hard way that this is not the case.”
“While this decision has been a painful one, I simply can’t keep living in the same manner,” Dutremble said in the statement. “I want to get healthy.”
He didn’t return messages seeking further comment. Dutremble serves on the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and he’ll be replaced upon the recommendation of Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland.
In a statement, Alfond said Dutremble’s “decision was a difficult one,” but he’s confident it “was the right one.”
Dutremble comes from a well-heeled Biddeford political family: His uncle, Lucien “Babe” Dutremble, was a former mayor, city councilor and legislator who died in 2006, and his cousin, Dennis “Duke” Dutremble, was Maine Senate president and the 1994 Democratic nominee for the seat in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.
The Maine Constitution doesn’t allow Senate seats to languish unfilled. It says the governor must call an “immediate election” in the district. Dutremble’s departure will leave the Senate with 20 Republicans, 14 Democrats and one open seat.
Once it’s called, parties would caucus to pick nominees. A Republican and Democrat are already interested.
Republican Steve Martin, a former Biddeford police officer, and Democrat Joanne Twomey, a former city mayor and legislator who gained notoriety for throwing a jar of Vaseline at LePage at an event last year, had already filed to seek their parties’ nominations for the general election.
Both said they would run in a special election and said it should be called soon. Twomey said there’s “important legislation” in Augusta and the region needs representation, while Martin, who said he was once Dutremble’s neighbor, said he wishes the outgoing senator “the best.”
“I have an immense amount of respect for the courage it took to do that,” he said.