Democrats sweep House races in Brunswick, Harpswell

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BRUNSWICK — Democratic candidates swept state House seats in Brunswick, Harpswell and West Bath in Tuesday’s election, maintaining party control in an area regarded as a Democratic base. 

In Brunswick, incumbent Rep. Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry and candidate Ralph Tucker won landslide victories over their Republican opponents in Districts 49 and 50, respectively, while Joyce “Jay” McCreight won a tight race against Republican Byron Watson in District 51. 

Daughtry, one of the youngest legislators in the state, easily won her bid for a second term, carrying 66 percent of the vote. She out-polled her Republican challenger, Michael Stevens, 3,140 to 1,596.

District 49 covers West Brunswick, including most of Brunswick’s downtown.

“I am deeply humbled and honored that the voters in District 49 chose me to represent them again,” Daughtry said on Wednesday. “What I was touched most by was the incredible turnout we saw yesterday, it was inspiring.”

Brunswick recorded heavy voter turnout all day, reflecting a state-wide trend.

For at least an hour in the early evening, election workers seemed overwhelmed with the sheer number of people coming to the polls. At one point, hundreds of voters were lined up waiting to cast ballots outside Brunswick Junior High School, the town’s only polling station.

The town clerk’s office estimated more than 10,000 residents voted on Tuesday.

Daughtry said her legislative agenda in the next session would include education and sustainable food production, but also said Maine needs to take a “hard look” at its economy.

In District 50, Tucker defeated Republican Mark Holbrook, 2,757 to 1,212, securing almost 70 percent of the total. District 50 covers most of East Brunswick, including Cook’s Corner and Brunswick Landing.

This was Tucker’s first campaign for the Legislature. The retired judge has said his legislative priorities include education, health care and the environment.

Speaking shortly after results were announced Tuesday night, Tucker said he was “relieved” by the outcome.

“I thank the people in Brunswick for putting up with me, both in the primary and in the general election,” Tucker said. “I hope I can do a good job for them.”

In District 51, which covers Harpswell, West Bath and a sliver of Brunswick, McCreight pulled off a victory in a tighter race, beating Watson 2,573 to 2,256. 

Watson won in Brunswick and West Bath – by only one vote – but McCreight polled much higher in Harpswell, the town with the heaviest electoral weight in the district, beating Watson by more than 400 votes.

“I would have liked it to be less close, but it is what it is,” McCreight said in a phone interview from her Harpswell home Wednesday morning.

A retired social worker, McCreight, 63, moved to Harpswell six years ago and has been been involved in the town’s Democratic committee.

She said voters she spoke to on the campaign trail echoed her legislative priorities on health care and education, but concerns about the economy seemed to occupy most people, McCreight said. 

“I think that the economy was the core of all of the issues,” McCreight said. “People want to have a good future, they want their kids to have a stable environment, they want Maine to stay Maine.”

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Watson said he was disappointed by the results and said voter turnout in Harpswell was the key.

“Our people didn’t get out,” he said. “I think a lot of people sat at home thinking we’d take it, and that’s unfortunate.”

He pointed to McCreight’s slim margin of victory to indicate that she has tenuous support in three communities. 

“She doesn’t have a mandate,” Watson said.

“It’s a very moderate district and I think they’ll find that she’s going to be pretty extreme,” he added. “I don’t think you’ve heard the last of the Byron Watson supporters.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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