The June 14 primary is a month away and some Hancock County voters will have an unusual opportunity. They can vote twice for the same candidate.
That’s because Democrat Nicole Grohoski and Republican Brian Langley, both of Ellsworth, are running for the state Senate District 7 seat in the primary and in a special election on that date. The special election is to fill the seat vacated by Louie Luchini, who stepped down this past January to take a job with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Green Independent Benjamin Meiklejohn of Mount Desert is the third candidate in the running.
Unlike the primaries, which are for registered party members, unenrolled voters can participate in the special election. Since the term expires this year, the winner of the special election is unlikely to accomplish much in his/her short time in office.
What a special election win could do is give the candidate a leg up in November. It’s handy to have “incumbent” on your resume while campaigning. The race may also indicate how the general election will go, but don’t bet the house. Turnout will be higher this fall and the districts will have changed.
In another twist, area residents may be Senate 7 voters for purposes of the special election, but not for the primary — and vice versa. That’s because newly redrawn districts will be used for the primary while the special election will use the existing configuration. Redistricting has added Isle au Haut, in Knox County, and Orland, Penobscot, Castine and Verona Island to District 7. Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Mariaville, Osborn, Sorrento and Waltham have become part of District 6. It’s a lot of moving parts.
There’s not much excitement to balance the confusion. Few of the primary races are contested. The Dems will anoint Janet Mills for another run for the Blaine House. The Republicans will do the same for Paul LePage. There is a choice on the Republican ballot for who will face off against incumbent Congressman Jared Golden in November, but Liz Caruso of Caratunk lacks Bruce Poliquin’s name recognition. Locally, there’s a contested Republican primary for the State Senate 10 seat. Robert Cross of Dedham and Peter Lyford of Eddington are running to represent the district that includes Bucksport, Dedham and Otis along with nine Penobscot County municipalities. Stephen Coston of Bar Harbor and Duncan Haass of Lamoine are vying for the Republican nomination for District 14 encompassing Bar Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Lamoine and Mount Desert. Steven Juskewitch of Dedham is running against incumbent Matthew Foster in the Republican primary for Hancock County district attorney.
Post-primaries, the election cycle will really ramp up. Take this time to familiarize yourself with the candidates and get up to speed on current voting districts. For Ellsworth residents, it’s a minor shift. The city remains in Senate District 7. The new House district is number 13, a mere dropped digit away from the former HD 132. There is a new partner to take to the dance, however. Ellsworth, once paired with Trenton, now shares a district with Waltham.