AUGUSTA, Maine — Republicans in the Maine Senate on Thursday picked Sen. Dana Dow as the next minority leader.
Dow, a slow-talking, 67-year-old former teacher who runs a furniture store in Waldoboro said he represents “a new face” for the party after Democrats took the Blaine House and both chambers of the Legislature in Tuesday’s election. He is an establishment pick who is well-liked in Augusta and co-chairs the tax committee. He helped craft a compromise tax conformity plan this year.
His installation comes as Republicans map a new way forward in state politics. On Tuesday, Mainers elected Attorney General Janet Mills to replace Gov. Paul LePage. Democrats won convincing majorities in the Legislature, taking 21 of 35 Senate seats and 89 of 151 House of Representatives seats.
Tuesday’s results erased Republicans’ one-seat majority in the Senate. Their two top leaders in the upper chamber were term-limited and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Amy Volk of Scarborough lost to former state Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, in a surprising outcome that seemed in doubt until Volk conceded Wednesday.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans picked Dow over Rep. Jeff Timberlake of Turner and Rep. Matt Pouliot of Augusta for the leadership spot. Timberlake will be the new assistant minority leader after defeating Sen. Lisa Keim of Dixfield and Rep. Stacey Guerin of Glenburn. Timberlake, Pouliot and Guerin won election to the upper chamber today.
Dow told reporters on Thursday that his party has lacked a “statewide agenda” and that he would prioritize K-12 education and tax reform — holding up changes that North Carolina enacted in 2013 that cut income and corporate taxes and broadened the sales tax base as an example.
He said he’d be “a new face” for the party and aims to “get along with everybody,” saying he has good relationships with Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, who is likely to be the next Senate president.
“We have to redefine the Republican Party differently than it has been the last eight years,” Dow said. “I don’t think that image always came across well.”
Senate Democrats were scheduled to meet later Thursday. Members said that Assistant Senate Minority Leader Nate Libby of Lewiston and Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, are running unopposed for majority leader and assistant majority leader, respectively.