Democrats Vitelli, Carson win open state Senate seats

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BRUNSWICK — Former Sen. Eloise Vitelli, an Arrowsic Democrat, defeated Guy Lebida, a Bowdoin Republican, 11,403 to 10,171, in Tuesday’s state Senate District 23 race.

Fellow Democrat Everett “Brownie” Carson prevailed in the Senate District 24 race. He will replace Sen Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, who could not seek re-election because of term limits.

Lebida, who narrowly bested Sen. Linda Baker, R-Topsham, in this year’s primary election, trailed Vitelli by about 1,200 votes. Vitelli was elected in a special election in 2013 and defeated by Baker in the following year’s regular election.

Senate District 23 includes all of Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden.

Vitelli defeated Lebida, 2,974 to 1,698, in Bath, and 3,106 to 2,766 in Topsham.

Lebida, who had victories in Bowdoin and Richmond, said Wednesday that he was disappointed he did not win the overall race.

“I’m not happy with the whole absentee (balloting) and the early voting so far in advance,” he said. “It’s not fair to candidates that are out campaigning. … The candidates don’t have a chance to get their word out.”

Lebida noted the number of absentee state ballots in Bath – which City Clerk Mary White reported to be 1,836 out of a total 4,823 cast. White said it has been common in recent elections for roughly one-third of the ballots to be absentee.

Vitelli could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Carson wins

In Senate District 24, Carson defeated Republican Tristam Coffin 13,865 to 9,639, according to an unofficial tally reported by the Bangor Daily News.

Senate District 24 includes Brunswick, Freeport, Harpswell, North Yarmouth and Pownal.

Coffin, 26, is a former military police officer with the National Guard, as well as a lobsterman, and pyrotechnics supervisor.

Carson, 68, is also a veteran. He directed the National Resource Council of Maine for nearly 30 years. He holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law and lives in Harpswell.

Carson has never held political office before, although, at age 24, he launched a campaign against incumbent Rep. Peter Kyros for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Though he didn’t win, he said he collected a surprising 37 percent of the vote.

Carson was announced the victor just after 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

Expressing appreciation for the voters who elected him, Carson reaffirmed his commitment to the core of his platform: improving education, protecting the environment, expanding access to health care, and building a strong economic future for small businesses through skills training.

In light of President-elect Donald Trump’s emphatic commitment toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, Carson said, “We’re going to have to go to work quickly, I hope in a bipartisan way, to make health care affordable and accessible in Maine to those who need it.”

Carson watched the results of Tuesday’s race from the Democratic headquarters on Pleasant Street, and when he saw the writing on the wall for a Trump presidency, he found “the mood is not what I hoped it would be.”

“We’re gonna have to take it a step at a time,” he said of Trump. “There are a lot of unknowns here.”

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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Reporter on the Brunswick/Harpswell beat. Proud Bowdoin grad that you can find reporting on municipal, school, and community news, or inside the many coffee and sandwich shops around the Midcoast. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100.