LEWISTON, Maine — The Republican candidate for House District 59 has moved to Arizona for college and is no longer running for the seat, according to his father.
However, Elliot Chicoine never told election officials that he was leaving the state or dropping out of the race, so his name remains on the ballot.
House District 59 represents the northern part of Lewiston. The seat has been held for years by Democrat Peggy Rotundo, but term limits prevented her from running again this year.
Officially, Democrat Roger Fuller and Chicoine are vying for the seat, but Chicoine has not campaigned and his latest campaign finance report, which runs from July 20 through Sept. 20, shows he neither raised nor spent any money.
In his candidate registration, Chicoine gave his address as 225 Montello St. in Lewiston. That home is owned by his father, Ron Chicoine, a local doctor and chairman of the Androscoggin County Commission.
The elder Chicoine said Monday that his son was accepted by an Arizona college late this summer and he has since moved there.
“He was withdrawing, but I think it was too late to formally withdraw from the ballot,” Ron Chicoine said. “I think he’s still on it, but he’s obviously not running.”
Reached by phone Friday and asked about his residency, Elliot Chicoine said he couldn’t hear the question and would call back in two hours during his lunch break. He didn’t call back and did not return repeated phone calls and emails Friday or Monday.
The Androscoggin County Republican Committee, the Maine House Republicans, the clerk of the House and the Secretary of State’s Office were all unaware that Chicoine was no longer in Maine and no longer running to represent Lewiston.
Although legislative candidates have dropped out at the last minute before, they’ve typically told someone.
“Usually, they (formally) withdraw, anyway, so we can put up notice at the polling place letting folks know, you know, don’t bother voting for this person because they’re not really in the running anymore,” said Maine Secretary of State spokeswoman Kristen Muszynski.
Since Chicoine has not formally withdrawn, Muszynski said, the Secretary of State’s Office can’t put up that notice. Chicoine is on the ballot and is still, officially, in the running for the seat.
“There would still be time for a candidate to withdraw by submitting a letter of withdrawal to us,” she said. “Obviously, the name would still appear on the ballot, but we could notify the clerks in the affected district and they could post a notice at the polling place so voters are made aware of the candidate’s withdrawal.”
It is unclear what would happen if Chicoine won the race. Clerk of the House Robert Hunt said such a situation would be very unusual and would likely be up to House members to address. He was not sure whether a special election would be required or whether the seat would go to Chicoine’s opponent if Chicoine was found to have been ineligible to run by moving to Arizona.
“We’d have to really sort some things out,” Hunt said. “All eyes would be looking at us like, ‘OK, what do we do now?’”
Fuller, Chicoine’s opponent, said he’d wondered why Chicoine hadn’t been campaigning. He’d recently heard a rumor that Chicoine had moved out of state for school.
Fuller said he feels bad that voters may not realize their candidate isn’t running anymore.
“There are voters who are going to vote straight down the ticket for a person who we really haven’t heard from,” he said.