Millett, Boyle win Maine Senate Democratic primaries in Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, South Portland

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The upcoming election to replace state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, produced a decided hometown advantage Tuesday when former School Board member Rebecca Millett easily defeated state Rep. Bryan Kaenrath of South Portland in the Senate District 7 Democratic primary.

In Senate District 6, which includes most of Scarborough, part of Westbrook, and Gorham, political newcomer James Boyle of Gorham defeated Rep. Tim Driscoll, D-Westbrook, for the Democratic party nomination.

Millett carried all three parts of District 7 – Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and the eastern portion of Scarborough – on her way to a 1,590 to 926 victory. In her hometown, Millett defeated Kaenrath 737-214.

“This was a tough race and I congratulate Bryan for a well fought campaign and for his dedicated service to District 124,” Millett said.

She will now face Republican Gary Crosby in the Nov. 6 general election. Crosby is a South Portland businessman who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2009.

The winner of the general election will become the third person to hold the District 7 seat since April 2011. Former Sen. Larry Bliss, a South Portland Democrat, resigned when he moved to California. Dill then defeated South Portland Republican Louis Maietta Jr. in a May 2011 special election.

Dill vacated the seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Kaenrath said a low turnout in South Portland and an energized turnout in Cape Elizabeth hurt his chances in the primary.

“I did well in the areas I needed to do well. I had hoped to carry South Portland enough to ride out the rest. I’ve won some and now I’ve lost one,” said Kaenrath, who is completing his third term in House District 124, the western section of South Portland.

Millett said she was grateful for her support from Bliss, South Portland City Councilor Tom Blake, Maine Rep. Jane Eberle (D – South Portland) and Cape Elizabeth School Board Chairman Mary Townsend.

 “It’s hard to say what people respond to in a campaign especially when there is no polling, but I think that the depth and breadth of my professional and community service reflected a proven track record of leadership, an ability to get things done and the strength to stand up and for fight for what’s right,” she concluded.

Senate District 6

The final vote in District 6 was 1,106 to 700 in favor of Boyle, who runs an environmental and land use consulting company. Boyle, who has never before run for public office, outspent Driscoll in the district, spending about $2.50 for every dollar spent by his competitor, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. 

“I’m feeling great,” Boyle said Wednesday morning. “I’m a combination of elated and exhausted.”

Boyle will run against Scarborough Republican Ruth Summers – wife of Secretary of State Charles Summers, who won Tuesday’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate race – in the November general election.

Boyle said he will run a fair, respectful campaign, and that his focus will be on environmental protection, economic growth, and caring for the poor and disadvantaged in Maine.

“There seems to be a pervading sense in the folks I’ve talked with, a sense of frustration with the partisan fighting in Augusta, but also the recent changes (Gov. Paul LePage’s) administration has brought into Maine,” he said. 

Driscoll said he’s happy with the campaign, and his record in District 126 and that after Tuesday’s defeat, he’s out of politics. 

“I called Jim and congratulated him. I told him he ran a great campaign and obviously had a message that resonated with people,” he said Wednesday. “It’s an honor to be able to represent the people I have for the past eight years, but I don’t have any aspirations beyond that with respect to political service right now.”

Mario Moretto contributed to this report. David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @dharry8.

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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.