Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. If you would like more specific information, please reach out to one of the attorneys noted on the right.

Shawn Moody Wins Republican Primary in First Round of Ranked Choice Voting; Democratic Nominee to be Determined in Later Rounds
In the primary election held on Tuesday, June 12, Shawn Moody easily won the Republican nomination for governor by garnering 56 percent of the vote total in the first round of ranked choice voting, thereby avoiding the need for later rounds. Garrett Mason received 23 percent, while Mary Mayhew and Ken Fredette received 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Democrats, however, will need to wait until next week to learn who will be their nominee for governor, as no candidate reached the 50 percent-plus-one vote threshold necessary to win in the first round. After all the Democratic primary ballots are brought to the Secretary of State in Augusta, he and his staff will begin the process of eliminating the candidate with the fewest number of votes and allocating the “next choice” votes to the appropriate remaining candidates, until one candidate receives a majority of votes cast. Presently, Janet Mills has 33 percent of the vote total to Adam Cote’s 28.4 percent. Elizabeth Sweet and Mark Eves are trailing with 16 percent and 14 percent, respectively. The remaining votes are spread between Mark Dion, Dianne Russell and Donna Dion.

State Representatives Running for State Senate Headline Legislative Races
There were 26 primary contests for seats in the Maine Legislature, and some of the more contested races involved sitting state representatives running for seats in the state Senate. In Portland, Representative Heather Sanborn defeated current Portland City Councilor Jill Duson for a Senate seat. Representative Louis Luchini, who is term-limited out of his House seat, defeated Ian Schwartz in their respective bids for a Senate seat for Hancock County. House Majority Leader Erin Herbig of Waldo County won her primary against Joseph Greenier. Nine other sitting state representatives are running for state Senate, but none had a primary challenger.

Ranked Choice Voting Referendum Prevails, but Faces Potential Roadblock from Governor
The citizen-initiated veto to retain ranked choice voting prevailed by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent, although Governor Paul LePage has stated he may not certify the results and, instead, may leave it to the courts to decide. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, on the other hand, has said the governor is constitutionally required to certify the results. The referendum question, however, did not affect the portion of the legislation that effectively repealed ranked choice voting with respect to the general election for the office of governor or state legislative seats. But ranked choice voting will be used for the election of federal candidates.

128th Legislature Returning on June 19th for a Special Session
On June 19, lawmakers will head back to the State House for a special legislative session. According to the announcement by Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, the session could last up to three days. The announcement comes after a majority of lawmakers from the Democratic, Republican and Green Independent parties agreed to return to address unfinished work. Many key issues were left unresolved when the legislature adjourned on May 2. According to the Office of Policy and Legal Analysis, 255 bills are still pending before the legislature, with several of the bills addressing major policy issues. That list includes funding to support Medicaid expansion, conforming Maine’s tax code to the new federal tax code, funding for K-12 schools for the 2018-2019 school year, bonds for transportation infrastructure and higher education institutions and extending Maine’s Pine Tree Development Zone Program. In advance of the special session, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee met on May 30 and June 11 and reported out two major spending packages dealing primarily with health care, social services, and funding for county jails. The AFA Committee is expected to come back on Monday, June 18 to consider bond bills and funding requests on the Special Appropriations Table. Meanwhile, incumbent lawmakers, leadership and caucus political action committees have had to cancel scheduled fundraisers for next week as they are prohibited from receiving contributions from lobbyists, as well as organizations and individuals who employ lobbyists, while the legislature is in session.