SOUTH PORTLAND — The race to replace Democratic Sen. Larry Bliss in Maine Senate District 7 looks like it’s boiling down to a longtime South Portland businessman and a sitting state representative from Cape Elizabeth.
Republicans and Democrats caucused last week to select their nominees for a May 10 special election to fill the seat, which represents South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and part of Scarborough.
Bliss is resigning as of April 15 to take a job in California.
Janet Love, Cumberland County Republican Committee chairwoman, said Republicans met in Cape Elizabeth and picked Louis Maietta Jr. as their candidate.
Love said the eight voting members all supported Maietta, who did not have a challenger.
“Louie is a lifelong resident of South Portland. He was born and raised here. His family is well known,” Love said. “I think he’s going to be a great candidate. He’s got a lot of energy for this campaign.”
Maietta has worked in his family construction business, but he now owns and manages commercial real estate. He is a former one-term state representative and has served on the City Council.
“I worked very well across party lines my entire life,” Maietta said. “I rarely see issues on a party basis; this is Maine, we are all in this together. There are no Democrat potholes and no Republican potholes.”
Democrats, meanwhile, caucused Tuesday night in South Portland and selected state Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, as their candidate.
Dill, a civil rights lawyer and adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College, received 21 of 30 votes.
South Portland City Councilor Tom Blake received nine votes, after he first withdrew and then redeclared his candidacy. Rob Schreiber, an SMCC adjunct professor and South Portland Planning Board member, received no votes.
Cumberland County Democratic Committee Chairman Reid Sher said former District Attorney Paul Aranson, of Scarborough, withdrew.
Sher said Democrats believe they have a “really strong” candidate in Dill, who is expected to run a “robust” campaign.
“Cynthia is a hard-worker,” Sher said. “She will do what she has to do” to win.
Dill said she was “thrilled” to get the nomination and would fight to protect the environment and vulnerable populations in the state budget.
“This session of the Legislature has made it crystal clear there are real differences between Republicans and Democrats,” Dill said.
If Dill wins the Senate election, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said, her House District 121 seat, which represents part of Cape Elizabeth, will not automatically be declared vacant.
Flynn said it will be up to the town to ask the state to declare a special election to fill the House seat.
Republicans currently hold 20 seats in the 35-member state Senate, while the Democrats hold 14 seats. One senator is unenrolled.