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By Dan Riley and Kate Knox
Yesterday’s election produced a great deal of change in Maine’s political landscape. President Obama was declared the winner of Maine’s four electoral votes early in the night and Independent Angus King easily won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Olympia Snowe. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Mike Michaud were re-elected by relatively wide margins. Maine also became the first state in the country to proactively adopt marriage equality through statewide election.
Perhaps most significantly, the Maine Democrats appear to have retaken both the Maine Senate and the Maine House of Representatives. Prior to the 2010 election, the Republicans had not held control of both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor’s office since 1978. While exact numbers are not yet available, it appears that the Democrats may have taken back control of 20 to 21 seats in the Maine Senate, out of a total of 35 seats. Previously the Senate consisted of 15 Democrats, 19 Republicans and 1 Independent. In the Maine House, the Democrats appear to have captured upwards of 85 seats (out of 151) and with 4 unenrolled legislators. Previously the House included 72 Democrats, 77 Republicans and 2 Independents. The resulting changes in the legislative branch will be dramatic. President of the Senate and Speaker of the House will now be held by Democrats – giving them control over the Legislature’s most important functions. As of noon today at least eight races may be close enough to trigger automatic recounts, as the margin of victory is fewer than 100 votes.
We expect House and Senate leadership elections to take place by next Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, with key committee chair appointments named shortly thereafter.
Most significantly, it now appears possible that the margins of victory are wide enough that the Constitutional Officers in Maine will be replaced. Because these offices are filled by a vote of the legislature, the offices of the State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General and State Auditor may all be up for grabs. While we will not know for certain whether the majority are large enough to support a change in the Constitutional Officer positions for a few days, Democratic hopefuls are already reaching out to legislators in the hopes of being nominated.
Whatever the final outcome, there is no doubt the Maine Legislature looks vastly different today than it did yesterday. Governor LePage announced an ambitious agenda for the upcoming session – an agenda that the new Democratic majority already announced they will challenge.
We will continue to provide you with additional updates as final counts in the legislative races become available and as a recounts are concluded. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further information about this election.