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AUGUSTA, Maine — Five Republicans and seven Democrats will run in Maine’s June primaries for the state’s open gubernatorial seat, promising an inaugural test for Maine’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice voting system.
There were few surprises in the list of candidates who qualified for major primaries in 2018, but Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn left Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office without knowing if he qualified — and blew up at a staffer in the lobby.
Linn, a Bar Harbor financial planner and former Florida gubernatorial candidate who hopes to run against independent U.S. Sen. Angus King as a pro-President Donald Trump Republican, submitted more than the 2,000 signatures needed to qualify for a statewide primary by Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but Dunlap said his office needed more time to verify them.
As Linn was leaving Dunlap’s office suite, Brad Littlefield, a former Sanford town councilor apparently working for him, nearly showed a reporter notes on what was happening with Linn’s petitions. But the candidate instructed him not to, later telling Littlefield he “created this nightmare” and saying, “Don’t get in my elevator.”
In the Democratic gubernatorial field will be Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington, former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick, attorney Adam Cote of Sanford, state Sen. Mark Dion of Portland, lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell, former state Rep. Diane Russell of Portland and former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion.
Gorham businessman Shawn Moody, former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China, Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls, Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport will run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Four Democrats — conservationist Lucas St. Clair of Hampden, Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden of Lewiston, former Maine Senate candidate Jonathan Fulford of Monroe and Islesboro bookseller Craig Olson — will compete to challenge U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican of the 2nd District, in a race to be nationally targeted for the third straight cycle.
The crowded primary fields mean that ranked-choice voting, which will be used for the first time in this year’s June primaries, will likely factor into the outcome of these key races.
While Linn’s fate is undetermined, King will face challenges from both sides anyway: State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, and Democratic educator Zak Ringelstein of Portland have qualified for their parties’ Senate primaries.
More than 400 candidates filed for legislative races, including Republicans and Democrats in all 35 Maine Senate districts. But some of those candidates have dropped out and parties can replace candidates who win primaries up until July, so that field is far from set.
Among the last-minute filings Thursday were two candidates for a state House seat in Greene and Sabattus. Republican Les Gibson was the only declared candidate in that district until earning national attention for insulting survivors of last month’s Florida school shooting on Twitter.
Democrats fielded Eryn Gilchrist of Greene, who said her area “deserved a representative who will respect people.” Then, Gibson got a primary challenge from former state Sen. Thomas Martin, who represented a Waterville-area district from 2010 to 2012 and now lives in Greene.
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