Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford announced Friday that he has unenrolled from the Democratic Party and will continue his term as an independent.
Grohman, who manages a roofing manufacturing company, is serving his second term in the Legislature after first being elected in 2014. He said during a news conference Friday morning, which was broadcast live on Facebook, that he left the Maine Democratic Party because he thinks he can accomplish more as an independent.
“What I’m doing overall is more about what is wrong with the party system in total, not one individual party,” said Grohman. “I think where the good work gets done is in the middle. That’s where I like to work and this will position me better to work with anybody. Good ideas come from anywhere.”
Grohman said he is also bothered by the influence of “special interest groups” in Augusta who “use party affiliation to push positions that are not in the best interests of Maine.”
Grohman is a member of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. His announcement Friday was publicized by Kyle Bailey, a political operative who started Maine Independents, a political action committee launched this year to support “political reform.”
Bailey was also the finance director of independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler of Cape Elizabeth, who lost consecutive elections against Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Cutler told the Bangor Daily News recently that he is working to place more independents in the Legislature.
Grohman’s defection from the Democratic Party closes the gap between Republicans and Democrats in the House. The balance now stands at 74 Democrats, 70 Republicans, one Green Independent and five representatives who are unaffiliated with a party. A Lisbon-area seat, which was held by Republican Rep. Gina Mason, became vacant when Mason died earlier this month and will be filled in a special election in November.
In May, two other House Democrats, Reps. Denise Harlow of Portland and Ralph Chapman of Brooksville, unenrolled from the party. These shifts mean that Democrats no longer have a clear majority in the House and would need independent votes to push through legislation that Republicans oppose.
Chapman announced Friday that he has enrolled with the Maine Green Independent Party, making him the only Maine legislator in the party.
Grohman, Harlow and Chapman all said when they unenrolled that they will likely continue to vote with Democrats most of the time.