In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, the Maine State House towers over a fog bank rising from the Kennebec River on a chilly morning in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — City Councilor Raegan LaRochelle flipped a Maine House of Representatives district representing the west side of the state capital in Tuesday’s special election, putting a seat long held by Republicans in the Democratic column.

LaRochelle, a businessperson and consultant in her first council term, won 56.2 percent of votes to 43.8 percent for Republican James Orr, according to unofficial results. The seat was vacated when Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, resigned in early July.

This race was a straightforwardly partisan one in Augusta, where Republicans often vie for support from the Maine Service Employees Association and other traditionally Democratic groups. But LaRochelle, whose mailers highlighted a desire to work on affordable housing and health care, was backed by the state employees’ union and the Maine Education Association.

Orr, a retired Army master sergeant, said he wanted to enshrine stronger voter identification laws and address rising costs of heating oil and other essentials. He won the Republican nomination narrowly at a local caucus over a city councilor with institutional support.

While Democrats have a partisan edge on Republicans in the district, they have not won the seat representing the area since the 2010 election. Fecteau won two terms to succeed Assistant Senate Majority Leader Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, who moved to the upper chamber in 2018.

LaRochelle, who is expected to be sworn in soon, will serve the rest of Fecteau’s term through the 2022 election, when every legislative seat will be up for grabs alongside a campaign between Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...