ELLSWORTH — Two Maine State Senate candidates cruised to decisive contested primary wins Tuesday night as another appeared set for a tight victory against a new challenger.
Republican Brian Langley of Ellsworth and Democrat Bev Uhlenhake of Brewer advanced to the general election with comfortable wins in their District 7 and District 8 primaries, respectively. In the District 8 Republican primary, incumbent Kimberley Rosen of Bucksport held a narrow lead over challenger Larry Lockman of Bradley with results from just two small precincts still outstanding at press time.
With all of Hancock County and all Penobscot County communities aside from the small town of Burlington and the county’s unorganized territories reporting, Rosen held a 100-vote lead (2,070 to 1,970) over Lockman in District 8. Her razor-thin advantage districtwide in the Republican race came on the back of a strong performance in Hancock County, where she tallied 796 votes to Lockman’s 343, according to preliminary results.
Rosen, a former business owner and the current chairwoman of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, has held the District 8 seat since 2014. She faced a stiff primary challenge from Lockman, a staunch conservative who previously served eight years in the Maine House of Representatives and had the endorsement of former Governor Paul LePage.
Despite the narrow margin, the relatively low number of outstanding votes all but assures Rosen of the primary win. In a Facebook statement issued early Wednesday afternoon, the District 8 incumbent declared victory and thanked her supporters.
“I am so excited for this victory because I want to get back to Augusta to finish my work,” Rosen said. “I have more work to get done for you, the people of Hancock and Penobscot counties, at the State House.”
In the District 8 Democratic primary, Uhlenhake, the former mayor of Brewer as well as a former Brewer City Council member, defeated fellow Brewer native Trudy Scee, an author and former university history professor. Uhlenhake had 2,232 votes to Scee’s 1,060 overall and outperformed her 861-413 in Hancock County.
The primary win earned Uhlenhake a spot on the general election ballot for the second consecutive election cycle. Uhlenhake lost to Rosen in the 2018 general election after winning an uncontested Democratic primary.
“Primary voters honored me with their votes today, and I pledge to represent all voters on Nov. 3,” Uhlenhake said in a statement Tuesday night. “I am ready to work with anyone I can to heal divisions, stabilize an economy in peril and get people back to work.”
District 8 includes the Hancock County communities of Bucksport, Castine, Dedham, Great Pond, Orland, Penobscot, Verona Island, Township 32 and portions of the East Hancock Unorganized Territory. It also represents the Penobscot County communities of Bradley, Brewer, Burlington, Clifton, Eddington, Holden, Lincoln, Lowell and Orrington as well as the East Central Penobscot Unorganized Territory.
In the District 7 Republican primary, Langley, owner of Union River Lobster Pot in Ellsworth and a former legislator, breezed to a victory over John Linnehan, president of Linnehan Homes and longtime leader of area Christian ministries. With all District 7 communities reporting Wednesday, Langley had 2,813 votes to Linnehan’s 1,079.
“I think voters trust my 10 years in the Legislature and my 35 years in public education,” Langley told The Ellsworth American. “I understand the system and have experience representing this district, which is nearly the entire county.”
Langley, who previously held the District 28 seat from 2010-14 and the District 7 seat from 2014-18 following redistricting, was unable to vie for the seat two years ago due to term limits. He will face incumbent Sen. Louie Luchini (D-Ellsworth), who handily defeated Republican Rich Malaby of Hancock in the 2018 general election and won Tuesday’s Democratic primary uncontested, in the general election.
“You could say Louie and I are good friends,” Langley said. “It’s important for people in this district to have good choices on the ballot, and that’s what they’ll have in November.”
Senate District 7 consists solely of communities in Hancock County. It includes Amherst, Aurora, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Eastbrook, Ellsworth, Franklin, Frenchboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Mariaville, Mount Desert, Osborn, Otis, Sedgwick, Sorrento, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Surry, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Trenton, Waltham and the northern reaches of the East Hancock Unorganized Territory.
Update: This story has been amended to include comments from Sen. Kim Rosen.