Portland Democrats pick Jorgensen, Farnsworth, Moonen for state House races

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PORTLAND — The November ballot for the state House of Representatives is set after Tuesday’s voting settled three contested Democratic primaries.

Democrat Erik Jorgensen won his party’s nomination in District 115. The Democratic nominee in District 117 is Richard Farnsworth, while Matthew Moonen took District 118.

There were no contested Republican or Green Independent primaries for the Legislature.

District 115

In District 115, where Democratic Rep. Stephen Lovejoy is vacating the seat, Jorgensen, 47, the outgoing executive director of the Maine Humanities Council, defeated School Board member Justin Costa and the development director of a progressive website called Common Dreams, Malory Shaughnessy.

Jorgensen had 313 votes to Shaughnessy’s 234 and Costa’s 182.

“I was very happy with the way it turned out, although I’m sorry it came at the expense of two other good people,” Jorgensen said. “I knocked on a ton of doors, wrote a lot of letters. … In an election like this, at the end of the day you don’t have a lot of votes.”

Shaughnessy said that Jorgensen was a deserving victor. “If I was going to lose to the best person I could think to lose to, it would have been Erik,” she said.

Shaughnessy, who moved to Portland a year and a half ago, credited Jorgensen’s long engagement with the schools and neighborhoods within District 115 for his win.

Jorgensen will face Republican Christopher Jordan and Green candidate Seth Berner in November.

District 117

Former Rep. Richard Farnsworth, 71, defeated longtime teacher Dauna Binder and transportation advocate Anthony Donovan for the Democratic nomination in House District 117.

Farnsworth received 367 votes to Binder’s 174 and Donovan’s 59.

Farnsworth served in the House from 1996 to 1998, in what was then District 32, (it was redistricted in 2003, and will be again next year.) Binder said that experience made a difference in the primary.

“(Farnsworth) has done this before and he’s really good at it,” he said.

Late Tuesday evening, Farnsworth still sounded energized by his victory in the primary. “A certain amount of adrenaline rush is in order,” he said. “One of the joys of winning a primary is you get to do it all over again.”

In November, Farnsworth will face Republican David Caron and Green nominee William Linnell in the race to replace Democratic Rep. Anne Haskell, who decided to run for the state Senate in District 9.

“I really am very appreciative and respectful of the confidence that the Democratic voters in my district have in me and will do everything in my power to respond to … their expectations,” he said.

District 118

The Democratic nomination in District 118 was a two-person race between  Matthew Moonen, 28, and Dillon Bates, 24, to replace Democratic Rep. John Hinck, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

Moonen, a former political director for EqualityMaine and activist with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, defeated Bates, 407-190.

Moonen could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Bates, a track coach and security guard who works at the Portland Public Library, said Moonen ran a tight campaign.

“I ran into what was very much a professional campaign,” Bates said. “He had a great team of volunteers. They were very efficient.”

Moonen also had support from “some big power players in the district that really brought out votes in the last week,” said Bates. “I wish it had been a little closer.”

Republican Chase Martin and Green Thomas MacMillan will join Moonen on the ballot in November.

County Commissioner District 4

South Portland City Councilor Tom Coward edged out former Rep. Boyd Marley in the race for the Democratic nomination for County Commissioner in District 4, which includes part of Portland. Coward beat Marley by just 35 votes, 1,386 to 1,351.

No Republican was on the primary ballot yesterday, so barring the unlikely scenario of a successful write-in candidate, Coward will cruise into the commissioner’s seat in November’s election. 

Coward’s move to county government will trigger a special election to fill his District 1 City Council seat in South Portland.

Mario Moretto contributed to this report. Andrew Cullen can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or acullen@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @ACullenFore.