Mid-Coast Democrats defend seats in Legislature

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BRUNSWICK — Election Day was a good one for incumbent legislators – all Democrats – in the Mid-Coast.

The gubernatorial contest helped pack polls statewide. There were lines of voters outside the doors at Brunswick Junior High School and the Topsham Fairgrounds on Tuesday morning.

The election produced wins by House District 49 Rep. Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry, D-Brunswick; House District 50 Rep. Ralph Tucker, D-Brunswick; House District 51 Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight, D-Harpswell; House District 52 Rep. Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath; House District 54 Rep. Denise Tepler, D-Topsham; Senate District 23 Sen. Eloise Vitelli, D-Arrowsic, and Senate District 24Sen. Everett “Brownie” Carson, D-Harpswell.

In Bath, 58.9 percent of registered voters turned out, compared with 60.9 percent in Brunswick, 79 percent in Harpswell, and 68.2 percent in Topsham.

“I got here at 6:30 (a.m.), and there was a line already,” Kathy Wilson, a Brunswick town councilor who is not up for re-election this year, said outside Brunswick Junior High.

She speculated that the gubernatorial race, sentiment against President Donald Trump and for U.S. Sen. Angus King – who lives in Brunswick – helped attract voters.

“It’s an extraordinary experience to go in there and see your name on a ballot, particularly under ‘United States Senate,'” King told reporters after he and his daughter, Molly Herman, voted in Brunswick.

“This is a very large turnout here, and cars are streaming in and out, people are coming in and out, people are in line,” he observed. “… We’ve already had a huge early voting turnout, and, of course, everybody’s trying to figure out what that means.”

Among other things, it meant King was re-elected Tuesday in a three-way statewide race where he captured 55 percent of the vote.

In neighboring Topsham, Marilyn Hunter was among voters braving the drizzling weather to stand in a long line outside the Topsham Fairgrounds. She said she never misses an election.

“I’ve been voting here since I was 18; I’ve never seen it like this,” Hunter noted, crediting the turnout in part to reminders on social media.

“But I also think … the political climate is difficult right now,” she added. “Everyone’s wound up.”

Senate District 23

Vitelli defeated Georgetown Republican Rich Donaldson, 11,526 to 8,484, to earn another term in Augusta, according to unofficial results. Senate District 23 includes all of Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden.

Vitelli won 2,858 to 1,284 in Bath, and 3,063 to 2,020 in Topsham.

She was elected in a special election in 2013 and defeated in the following year’s regular election, but returned her to the Legislature following a 2016 victory. 

In 2012 she served on the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, and in the past on the School Unit 47 board, the Arrowsic School and Regional School Unit 1 Transition committees, as well as the Maine Human Resources Development Council.

“I’m feeling gratified and very pleased,” Vitelli said Wednesday, “and I just have to recognize that I could not have done this on my own; there was a whole team of volunteers working to make this happen.”

Senate District 24

The Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday morning that Carson was triumphant over Republican candidate Diana Garcia and as of 11:30 a.m. had received 15,241 votes to Garcia’s 7,300.

Carson was elected to represent the district in 2016; it covers Brunswick, Harpswell, North Yarmouth, Freeport and Pownal.

Carson won by 7,760 to 3,316 in Brunswick, and 2,072 to 1,043 in Harpswell.

In a September interview, he said the importance of the next two years and beyond is to rebuild “effective, efficient public services” for Mainers.

House District 49

Challenged by fellow Brunswick resident Michael Stevens for the third time, Daughtry defeated her Republican opponent 3,846 to 1,589.

District 49 covers West Brunswick and includes most of Brunswick’s downtown.

Daughtry, a brewer, was elected to the Legislature in 2012. 

“I am absolutely honored and tickled pink, and it feels surreal,” Daughtry said Tuesday night. “I’m so excited and filled with so much love to be able to represent my hometown. This is the greatest honor of my life.”

House District 50

Tucker was challenged by Republican Michael Lawler of Brunswick in District 50, which includes most of East Brunswick, including Cook’s Corner and Brunswick Landing.

Tucker defeated Lawler, 3,611 to 1,163, to earn a third term in the Legislature.

A retired Maine District Court Judge, Tucker is a former town councilor and chairman of the Brunswick School Board.

“It’s very good” to have gotten voter support for another term, Tucker said Tuesday night. After “eight years of really regressive policies followed by (Gov. Paul LePage),” he added, “I’m eager to get started, to restore some respect for the law, and for normal governance.”

House District 51

McCreight faced a challenge from first-time candidate Sean Hall, a Republican and fellow Harpswell resident, in the race for House District 51, which covers Harpswell, West Bath and a small part of Brunswick.

McCreight defeated Hall, 3,095 to 2,002. She won 2,013 to 1,141 in Harpswell, 633-481 in West Bath, and 449-380 in Brunswick.

A social worker/clinical counselor, McCreight was first elected in 2014. 

Saying Wednesday that she was honored to be re-elected, McCreight added, “I look forward to continuing the work for our district and our state,” and is “proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, but there’s much more work to be done.”

House District 52

DeChant defeated Republican challenger Bil Weidner, 2,948 to 1,171, to secure a fourth and final term in District 52, which covers Bath. The two had also squared off in 2016.

DeChant became executive director of the Chocolate Church Arts Center in 2013. She has served as chairwoman of the Sagadahoc County Democrats, treasurer of the Maine Democratic Party and one of Maine’s eight Democratic superdelegates in 2008.

“I am honored to return for my fourth term; I take the responsibility very seriously,” DeChant said, adding that she looks forward to working with Democratic and Republican colleagues alike “to continue to move policy forward.”

House District 54

Tepler fended off a challenge from Republican Leon Brillant, 3,259 to 1,867, to secure a third term representing state House District 54.

Tepler was elected to District 54, which covers all of Topsham, in 2014. She has served on the Topsham Finance Committee and was a member of the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors from 1996-2002.

“I’m excited to get back to work and be a voice for the people in Topsham,” Tepler said Wednesday morning, praising Brillant for running “a clean race.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, shakes hands with Paula Clearfield of Brunswick, left, and Penny Meyers of Durham after he voted at Brunswick Junior High School Nov. 6. 

Daughtry

Tucker

McCreight

DeChant

Tepler

Vitelli

Carson

Residents line up outside the Brunswick Junior High School gym Tuesday morning to vote in the midterm elections.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.