Democrats sweep Portland's legislative races

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PORTLAND — Some are old, some are new, some were unopposed, but Portland stayed blue.

Democrats swept their way into eight state House seats and two state Senate seats Tuesday, even as some experienced legislators will step aside because of state term limit laws.

Both of the city’s state Senate seats were open, and were won by state Reps. Ben Chipman and Mark Dion.

Chipman will replace Democratic Sen. Justin Alfond in Senate District 27, which covers the city peninsula, Casco Bay islands and extends off the peninsula into the Deering neighborhoods.

He defeated Green Independent Seth Baker and Republican Adam Pontius, 14,782 to 3,672 to 3,538. Alfond could not run again because of term limits.

“It is a great opportunity to take on more responsibility and continue my service to the city of Portland,” Chipman said.

Once a leader of the movement to impeach Gov. Paul LePage, Chipman said he will try to work with LePage in the upcoming legislative session, but is ready to work with other legislators if the governor is uncooperative.

Chipman said he would like to expand MaineCare coverage, properly fund education and make sure treatment is available for people with substance use disorders.

In Senate District 28, covering the western portion of Portland and a portion of Westbrook, Dion defeated Republican Karen Usher, 15,675 to 6,493. The Portland results were 11,144 to 3,411 in favor of Dion.

Dion now serves in House District 43. He will replace Sen. Anne Haskell, who decided not to seek re-election.

“I’m very excited by the challenge and responsibility. I look forward to turning my attention to the work at hand in Augusta,” Dion said.

He ran on a reputation as a plain speaker ready to work with all his colleagues, and said the results show he delivers.

“I’ve been reminded about what is important and (the voters) have faith that I am someone who can reach across the aisle,” he said. “It is like ‘OK the campaigns are over now, and we expect you to get it done now.'”

The city delegation to the state House of Representatives has four new faces, while the four incumbents easily won re-election.

In House Districts 36 and 37, Reps. Denise Harlow and Richard Farnsworth were unopposed and received 3,234 and 3,800 votes, respectively.

In House District 38 on the city’s West End, Rep Matthew Moonen won a 2014 rematch with Republican Thomas Loring, 4,266 to 764.

The election in House District 39 replaced Democratic Rep. Diane Russell, who could not run again because of term limits. Democrat Michael Sylvester of Peaks Island defeated city resident Republican Peter Doyle, 4,313 to 940.

Rachel Talbot Ross, head of the city chapter of the NAACP, will replace Chipman in House District 40. Her opponent, Republican Carol Taylor, did not actively seek the seat. Election returns gave Talbot Ross the victory 3,132 to 0.

“I’m humbled and honored to represent the district, and grateful to be part of the extraordinary delegation headed to Augusta,” Talbot Ross said.

Talbot Ross follows in Chipman’s and her father’s footsteps. Gerald Talbot was the first African American elected to the state Legislature.

“Both my parents are so proud and couldn’t be happier,” she said. “And Ben is so well respected in the district. He is a role model I will count on.”

The House District 41 race was also a repeat of 2014, and again, Democratic Rep. Erik Jorgensen defeated Dr. James Azzola, a Republican. This year, the vote was 4,016 to 923.

The House District 42 race was for an open seat as incumbent Democratic Rep. Peter Stuckey could no seek re-election because of term limits. Democrat Ben Collings won his first bid for elected office, defeating Republican Susan Abercrombie 3,398 to 2,309.

In House District 43, Dion will be replaced by Democrat Heather Sanborn in a district that also serves a portion of Falmouth. Sanborn defeated Republican Jeffrey Langholtz, 3,599 to 1,948. In Portland, the vote was 2,613 to 1,256.

Rachel Talbot Ross and Rep. Ben Chipman celebrate their Nov. 8 election wins at Bayside Bowl in Portland. Talbot Ross replaces Chipman in House District 40 as Chipman moves up to Senate District 27.

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.