Chipman, Dion grab Portland Democratic primaries

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PORTLAND — State Rep. Benjamin Chipman was the day’s biggest winner Tuesday when parties selected nominees for the Nov. 8 general elections.

Chipman trounced Dr. Charles Radis and state Rep. Diane Russell to get the Democratic nomination in state Senate District 27, a seat now held by Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland. Alfond cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Chipman received 53 percent of the vote, winning 1,778 to 797 over Radis, with Russell close behind Radis at 770 votes.

Chipman will face Republican Mark Lockman and Green Independent Seth Baker in the Nov. 8 general election. Both were unopposed in Tuesday’s primaries.

In other contested races, state Rep. Mark Dion defeated City Councilor Jill Duson and former state Rep. Ann Peoples to win the Democratic nomination in state Senate District 28, now represented by Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland.

Dion won the district covering the western part of Portland and a portion of Westbrook with 664 votes; Duson had 589 votes and Peoples 264.

Dion now faces Westbrook Republican Karen Usher, who ran unopposed in her primary, in the Nov. 8 general election.

The Senate primary fields also created two races for House seats in Portland districts.

In House District 39, where state term limits prevented Russell from seeking a fifth consecutive term, Peaks Island resident Michael Sylvester easily defeated Portland attorney Andrew Edwards, 645-226.

Sylvester will face Republican Peter Doyle Nov. 8. Doyle had no opposition for his party’s nod.

In House District 40, where Chipman is completing his third term, Rachel Talbot Ross, with 198 votes, defeated former Rep. Herb Adams, 171, and political newcomer Anna LaBrasca Kellar, 156, in a tight Democratic primary.

Talbot Ross now has a chance to follow her father’s footsteps in Augusta; Gerald Talbot was the first African American elected to the Maine House. Opposing her Nov. 8 are Republican Carol Taylor and Green Independent Russell Hoskins, both unopposed Tuesday in their primary elections.

Voter turnout did not reach 10 percent in Portland, with 5,263 of 54,121 registered voters casting ballots.

The Senate District 27 race was the most contentious. Chipman faced an ethics complaint over his fundraising that will not be further investigated by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. Ethics staff will look into possible rules changes stemming from the complaint filed by Russell campaign volunteer Steven Biel.

The Ethics Commission is also looking into Russell’s political action committee and its role in her campaign.

The demeanor of the campaign eventually brought Alfond into the fray, when he endorsed Chipman on Monday.

“I had planned all along to remain out of the race,” Alfond said Tuesday. “After watching this campaign really become the most negative campaign I have seen in my 13 years living in Portland, after watching just what I called gutter politics, I felt I could not stay silent.”

Chipman said the win reinforced his approach to the campaign.

“I felt it was a victory for positive campaigns and the Clean Election system,” he said.

In winning Senate District 28, Dion said voters took to his approach, though all three candidates were proven leaders.

“It was a question of who (voters) believe represents their interests and presents the proper leadership posture in Augusta,” Dion said.

The remainder of primaries for six House seats were uncontested.

In House District 36, Democratic Rep. Denise Harlow has a clear path to a fourth term, because there was no Republican on the primary ballot. In House District 37, incumbent Democratic Rep. Richard Farnsworth and Republican Donato Apon were nominated.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Matthew Moonen and Republican Thomas Loring are now set for a rematch of the 2014 election in House District 38. A rematch from 2014 is also set in House District 41, where incumbent Democratic Rep. Erik Jorgensen and Republican Dr. James Azzola were nominated Tuesday.

In House District 42, Democratic Rep. Peter Stuckey cannot seek a fifth consecutive term due to term limits. Democrat Benjamin Collins and Republican Susan M. Abercrombie were unopposed in their primaries.

In House District 43, Democrat Heather B. Sanborn and Republican Jeffrey W. Langholtz were unopposed in their primaries to replace Dion.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Chipman, Dion, Sylvester, Ross

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.