SOUTH PORTLAND — Two Republican political newcomers narrowly won open seats, while incumbents easily retained theirs, in a slew of Nov. 4 Maine House elections across Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and South Portland.
Republican Kevin Battle won a tightly contested three-way race for the open seat in District 33, which includes the South Portland neighborhoods west of Main Street and north of Broadway, up to Tanner Street. Prior to last year’s mandated redrawing of electoral lines, the district was House District 124.
Battle out-polled Democrat Rosemarie DeAngelis by 2 percent of those casting ballots, 1,470 t0 1,405, with Green Independent candidate Andrew Reddy receiving 329 votes.
Battle, 56, of Sandy Hill Road, South Portland, first ran for office in 2012 against Democratic Rep. Bryan Kaenrath in District 124, and lost the race by fewer than 200 votes. Kaenrath was unable to run for re-election this year because of term limits.
Battle on Thursday said his prior campaigns may have helped him this time around.
“I think people heard of me from the first time, and knew this wasn’t a whim. They knew I really wanted to dedicate myself to (the seat),” he said.
He knew the race would be a nail-biter, he added, given the “caliber” of his opponents. “Anything could have changed it,” he said.
Battle is a deputy harbor master for the Port of Portland and a retired South Portland police officer.
DeAngelis is a former South Portland city councilor and mayor who was making her first attempt at higher office. Reddy is a social studies teacher who had never entered a political race.
To fill the seat being vacated by Republican state Rep. Amy Volk, who won election to the state Senate, voters chose her hand-picked successor, Republican Karen Vachon, by a margin of less than 2 percent.
Vachon defeated Democrat Paul Aranson, 2,541 to 2,462. She had never before sought elective office, but said she decided to run at Volk’s urging after the two discussed the proposed expansion of MaineCare, the state Medicaid program.
Aranson, a lawyer and former Cumberland County district attorney, lost a 2012 bid for Volk’s House seat in District 127 by an even slimmer margin – just 12 votes.
“I’m really pleased with the results … I wanted to stay on task and deliver my message without negative campaigning,” Vachon said. “In this election we clearly saw that negative campaigning doesn’t work.”
District 29, created by the redistricting, comprises the eastern portion of Scarborough, and is nearly identical to District 127.
Vachon, 55, is an insurance agent in Scarborough, and a resident of Ocean Avenue there. She has also worked as an account manager for a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company.
First-term Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, now representing District 129, won easy re-election in newly drawn District 27, beating back Gorham Republican Tyler Kinney, 2,549 t0 1,672.
Kinney, a student at the University of Southern Maine, had never before sought elective office.
Most of District 27 lies in the eastern half of Gorham. But the district includes a triangular sliver of north Scarborough, bounded by Gorham to the west, South Portland and Westbrook to the east, and roughly by Holmes Road to the south.
Prior to redistricting, the area had been part of District 128, which has been within Scarborough’s borders since the last line-laying a decade ago.
Despite McLean’s win by more than 20 percent of ballots cast, he barely broke even in the triangle, winning there 280-276.
“They’re folks I’ve just gotten to know,” he said of his new Scarborough constituents. “It’s always a little different when you see someone’s name on the ballot and they’re from another town.”
McLean, 29, lives on Johnson Road, Gorham, and works as a conduct officer at USM. In the Statehouse, McLean serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation.
Two-term incumbent state Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, cruised to a third term in District 28, outpacing Democratic challenger Dwight Ely by 13 percent of the votes cast, 2,503 to 1,932.
District 28 covers more than half of Scarborough, stretching west from U.S. Route 1, and is roughly contiguous to District 128, which Sirocki now represents.
Sirocki, 54, of Glendale Road, Scarborough, sits on the Health and Human Services Committee. She works as a dental hygienist and receptionist. In her campaign, she credited her personal experience, including an upbringing in poverty, with helping her understand the economic challenges facing many people.
Ely, a farmer, business consultant and former assistant principal at Cape Elizabeth High School, previously served on the Scarborough School Board.
State Rep. Kimberly Monaghan-Derrig, D-Cape Elizabeth, handily won a third term in House District 30, defeating Republican challenger Pauline Wilcox, 3,169 to 1,859 – a margin of more than 25 percent of those casting a ballot.
District 30 comprises Cape Elizabeth and a portion of South Portland.
In the House, Monaghan-Derrig is a member of the Judiciary and Ethics committees, as well as the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future.
Monaghan-Derrig, 55, is a resident of Russet Lane, Cape Elizabeth, and works as a marketing analyst for an online news service. She is also an adjunct professor at USM.
The race was the first try at elected office for Wilcox, who works for a senior home-care company.
Two unopposed representatives retained their seats in District 31 and District 32 of the Maine House.
Rep. Terry Morrison, D-South Portland, who is currently serving his third term, was re-elected with 3,875 votes in District 31.
Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, a freshman legislator, won a second term with 3,114 votes in District 32.
Morrison, 43, serves on the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Affairs and the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. He works as general manager of The Inn at St. John, in Portland.
Hamann, 31, is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. He owns Hamann Media, a video production company in South Portland.
District 31 comprises South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood and much of the city’s waterfront. District 32 covers a wide swath of South Portland, from Knightville to U.S. Route 1, and part of Cape Elizabeth.