AUGUSTA, Maine — Former state Rep. Dale Crafts formally clinched the Republican nomination in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District after coming away with 58.5 percent of votes in a ranked-choice count by the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday.
The news was anticlimactic, as Crafts was just below the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat outright on primary night last week. Independent polling of likely voters released a week before the election showed that voters who picked his two opponents first would break for him in a second round of counting.
Despite both former state Sen. Eric Brakey and real estate agent Adrienne Bennett conceding to Crafts, state law requires any race that does not result in a majority winner to go through the ranked-choice count. Crafts wants to work with Maine lawmakers to change the law to not trigger a count in such situations, saying it was “completely ridiculous” in a decided race.
Bennett ended up in second place with 41.5 percent of votes after Brakey, the third-place finisher, was eliminated. While 34 percent of Brakey’s voters did not rank another candidate, 37.2 percent ranked Crafts second to only 28.7 percent for Bennett. That margin bumped Crafts above the 50 percent threshold.
Crafts will now go on to face freshman U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, in November. The incumbent has a big fundraising lead over Crafts, but he may catch up now that he is the formal nominee. The 2018 election was the most expensive in Maine history to that point, though the 2020 race will take a back seat to Maine’s nationally targeted U.S. Senate election.