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New Republican candidate emerges to challenge Falmouth Democrat Breen in Maine Senate District 25

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New Republican candidate emerges to challenge Falmouth Democrat Breen in Maine Senate District 25

FALMOUTH — A real estate broker who was Maine's first woman police chief on Thursday announced her intention to seek the Republican nomination in state Senate District 25.

Cathy Manchester, of Gray, told the Falmouth Republican Committee she is running for office to perform her civic duty.

"Maine's been very good to me and provided many opportunities for me, and it's time to give back," she said.

William Gardiner, of Yarmouth, who ran uncontested this month in the District 25 Republican primary, told the committee he intends to officially withdraw. Gardiner, who was rumored to be a placeholder candidate leading up to the primary, introduced Manchester to the committee meeting at Town Hall and endorsed her candidacy.

Manchester, 54, attended Gray-New Gloucester High School and studied applied technical education at the University of Southern Maine. She attended the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, graduated at the top of her class, and worked in law enforcement for 15 years – including a period as chief of the Poland Police Department, where she was the first woman chief in the state.

Manchester has worked in real estate for the past 17 years. She served a one-year term on the Gray Town Council, from 2009 to 2010. Until recently, she raced stock cars, and once won a championship at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Manchester described herself as "fiscally conservative" and "fairly liberal on social issues." She said as a senator she would hope to draw business to Maine, while maintaining the state's natural beauty.

Manchester said after sending her resume to the governor's office in search of nomination letters for the state's Real Estate Commission, she was approached last week by representatives from the Senate office, who urged her to run.

She is not assured of the Republican nomination. Other candidates could emerge between now and the party caucus in early July, where a candidate will be formally chosen for the November election.

That candidate will run against former Falmouth Town Councilor Cathy Breen, who trounced marketing executive and Yarmouth Town Council Chairman Steve Woods, 2,163 to 1,028, in the June 10 Democratic primary.

Manchester had no harsh words for her potential opponent, saying "I certainly have some respect for her."

But Gardiner was less diplomatic. In a pep talk to the local Republicans, he described Falmouth Democrats as "evil."

"This is no-holds-barred against this bunch," Gardiner said, identifying Breen, former Town Councilor Teresa Pierce, who is a candidate in House District 44, and Bonny Rodden, a former councilor who is managing Breen's campaign. "You know the players and they are not going to play nice. They do not play nice in the sandbox."

"Falmouth cannot go to Breen," Gardiner said.

In addition to Falmouth, the new Senate District 25 includes Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Gray, Long Island, Yarmouth and part of Westbrook.

Gardiner also addressed speculation by Woods during the campaign that Michael Cianchette of Cumberland, former chief legal counsel to Gov. Paul LePage, would be the Republican candidate in District 25.

While there are some members of the GOP who would love to see Cianchette run, "You can be 100 percent sure Michael Cianchette is not going to be the candidate," Gardiner said.

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or btwist@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.