Former Portland Mayor Brennan seeks seat in Legislature

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PORTLAND — Former Mayor Michael Brennan is returning to the campaign trail as a candidate in Maine House District 36.

“I just think it is a very important, if not historic time in the state’s history,” Brennan said Wednesday. “We are going to elect a new governor and recalibrate the direction of the state.”

If elected, Brennan, of 49 Wellington Road, said he would merge his experience as mayor and as a former legislator to advocate for the city in education funding, fighting the opioid crisis and property tax relief.

“I want to be part of setting a new direction, and ensure Portland is treated fairly in Augusta,” he said.

The District 36 seat is now held by Rep. Denise Harlow, an independent who cannot seek re-election because of state term limits that cap the number of consecutive terms at four.

Brennan became Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in almost 90 years in 2011, defeating current Mayor Ethan Strimling by 850 votes. In 2015, Strimling turned the table with a majority victory that precluded a ranked-choice runoff.

A Democrat, Brennan previously served four terms in the House. He also served five years in the state Senate, completing a term of the late Sen. Joel Abromson before winning two more full terms. In his last Senate term, from 2004-2006, Brennan was majority leader.

In 2008, Brennan was defeated in by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District. Strimling finished behind Pingree and Brennan in that vote.

Harlow is completing her fourth term in the district that extends along Forest Avenue from near Morrill’s Corner to the Westbrook and Falmouth boundaries.

A Democrat for most of her tenure, Harlow left the party last May.

Harlow is the only legislator from the city facing term limits, although Democratic Sen. Mark Dion is running for governor and Rep. Heather Sanborn of House District 43 is seeking Dion’s Senate District 28 seat, as is City Councilor Jill Duson.

As of Jan. 15, Rep. Matt Moonen of House District 38 and Sen. Ben Chipman of Senate District 27 had filed with the Maine Ethics Commission for re-election to their current seats.

Rep. Michael Sylvester of House District 38 reported on his Facebook page he had taken out nomination papers with the Secretary of State’s office to seek re-election in House District 39. Moonen, Sylvester and Chipman are all Democrats.

Party primaries will be held June 12. The general election will be held Nov. 6.

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


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.