Joe Baldacci laughs with a supporter outside of the Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Former Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci narrowly defeated state Rep. Victoria Kornfield for the Democratic nomination for an open Maine Senate seat in Bangor and Hermon on Tuesday in one of the most prominent races in a large slate of party legislative primaries.

Across the state, Democrats saw 25 contested primaries, with only three featuring incumbents. Several races were matchups between experienced Democratic legislators against relative political newcomers with differing priorities. In many instances, they brought different priorities that caught the attention of outside groups.

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* This race will be decided by ranked-choice voting. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of total votes, the Maine secretary of state will conduct a second ballot tally at a later date to determine the winner.

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Baldacci defeated Kornfield with about 53 percent of votes, giving him the right to challenge Penobscot County Treasurer John Hiatt, a Republican, and independent Kristie Miner in the fall for the open seat held now by Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, who is termed out.

Baldacci, the younger brother of former Gov. John Baldacci and a lawyer who served on the Bangor City Council for 12 years, briefly ran for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016 but dropped out of the primary after gaining no traction. He was backed by the Maine AFL-CIO, an influential labor coalition, and expressed interest in the economy, civil rights and infrastructure.

“Feeling happy and grateful and looking forward to winning the seat in November,” Baldacci said shortly after getting results from Bangor. “Our campaign has focused on jobs, education and health care and we need to be there for those families and people trying to make ends meet.”

Democratic incumbents held off challengers Tuesday night as well, including Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, and Rep. Genevieve McDonald, D-Stonington. In Bangor, Amy Roeder and Laura Supica easily won contested Democratic primaries for party-held seats in the Maine House of Representatives.

In southern Maine, Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, who is term-limited in her chamber, held off former Rep. Kim Monaghan, D-Cape Elizabeth, to win the primary for a House seat. Rep. Mattie Daughty, D-Brunswick, beat former Sen. Stan Gerzofsky in the Senate district covering Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, North Yarmouth and Pownal.

Two three-way state legislative races in Cumberland County will not require ranked-choice runoffs. In the primary for Millett’s seat, Rep. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, came away with more than 60 percent of the vote. In a Maine House district covering part of Portland, former City Councilor Barb Wood won with 50.2 percent of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff.

BDN writers Jessica Piper and Eesha Pendharkar contributed to this report.