Republican candidate for governor Shawn Moody.
Republican candidate for governor Shawn Moody.
On Tuesday, 54 percent of Maine voters said yes to preserving ranked-choice voting. Republican Shawn Moody easily defeated his three opponents in the GOP gubernatorial primary with 56 percent of the vote. And while Democrat Janet Mills won a clear plurality of the vote, the outcome of that primary once the votes are retabulated is anyone’s guess. Up in the Second Congressional District, Jared Golden of Lewiston is ahead of Lucas St. Clair of Hampden, 49 percent to 41 percent, but there won’t be a winner declared until the second choices of Craig Olson voters are tabulated. And in the midcoast, Democrats Janice Dodge of Belfast, April Turner of Freedom and Chloe Maxmin of Nobleboro all won competitive primaries for the Maine House.

RCV Wins Despite Misleading Robocalls

Despite a misleading robocall campaign to defeat Question 1, the ranked-choice voting referendum easily won 21 of the 26 midcoast towns that reported results to The Free Press by early Wednesday.

In a statement, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting noted that the people’s veto of a law the Legislature passed to effectively repeal RCV passed by an even wider margin than when voters approved the RCV referendum in 2016.

“This has been an epic battle and this latest victory is because of the persistence of the Maine people who believe we can help fix a broken political system,” Campaign Treasurer Cara McCormick said in a statement.

RCV will now be used for primary elections and general elections for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative, but not for Maine’s legislature or governor. Earlier this week, Rep. Paula Sutton (R-Sutton) sent out a robocall falsely claiming that RCV “has already been ruled unconstitutional by the Maine Supreme Court.” But in reality, Maine’s Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that RCV likely only conflicted with the Maine Constitution in general elections for state offices. Sutton’s “Women’s Leadership PAC” also falsely claimed that the ACLU opposed RCV, but the ACLU of Maine responded in a statement that it actually supported putting the people’s veto on the ballot.

In a not-quite-unexpected turn of events, Gov. LePage told NewsCenter Tuesday that he “probably” will not certify the election and will “leave it to the courts to decide.” But according to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, LePage doesn’t even have the authority to certify the election.

“It really doesn’t make a difference,” said Dunlap in a statement. “His authority to certify is inherent in election results; the primary is a nomination, not an election. So he can’t prevent people from qualifying for the November ballot.” 

According to early election returns, about 123,000 Democrats turned out on Tuesday, which is about roughly the same number who voted in the 2010 primary. By contrast, 82,000 Republicans turned out on Tuesday, compared to a whopping 131,437 back in 2010, which likely is a measure of the level of excitement on the GOP side.

While it was unknown at press time who will face Shawn Moody in the general election, it appears it will be either Janet Mills or Adam Cote, depending on who the more progressive voters chose for their second and third choices. At press time, Mills had 37,378 votes, followed by Cote (32,522), Betsy Sweet (18,373) and Mark Eves (16,519), according to the Portland Press Herald. In the midcoast, Mills won 30 towns, Sweet won nine and Cote won six. Eves and Mills tied in Lincolnville.

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary of State’s office said that a courier service would begin picking up ballots and tabulator devices from voting places on Thursday and would start feeding all that info into the system in Augusta to determine the ultimate winner.

Friendship Votes for “Blank” Over Brakey

Eric Brakey of Auburn cruised to a win Tuesday because his opponent Max Linn was disqualified from the ballot due to the sheer number of forged signatures of dead people on his petitions. But that didn’t stop the Bar Harbor financial planner from covering Maine and even parts of New Hampshire with his “Trump Strong” signs. And although his votes were generally counted as blanks, in a few towns the blanks came dangerously close to overtaking Brakey, and in Friendship Blank actually defeated the Auburn Republican 89-57.

But we haven’t seen the last of Linn. On June 8, Linn announced that he would be running again in 2020. “Senator Susan Collins days of warmongering, supporting bailouts, globalist open border policies and aligining herself with the Trump/Russia conspiracy are numbered,” he tweeted.

Mayor Isgro Survives Waterville Recall

In other news, Mayor Nick Isgro narrowly survived a recall campaign, 1,563 against recall to 1,472, according to the Waterville Sentinel. On his Facebook page, Isgro posted the Bible verse Samuel 17:45-46: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, But I come against you IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY, THE GOD OF The Armies of Israel, WHOM you have defied.”

The recall effort was launched in April after Isgro tweeted “eat it Hogg,” in reference to David Hogg, a gun control activist and teenage survivor of the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Isgro also used social media to make xenophobic rants against immigrants and label other Republicans as “cucks” for such “transgressions” as sponsoring a sexual harassment training bill and opposing accused sexual predator Roy Moore.

In a statement on Wednesday, the “Recall Nick Isgro” group mourned the results: “Conflict brings out the best and worst in people, and this was no exception. Residents who supported the recall were harassed publicly and on social media, and faced scare tactics and intimidation for demanding better leadership and accountability. Waterville can and must do better than this.”

Accused Sexual Abuser Wins GOP D.A. Nomination

Meanwhile, the Lewiston Sun Journal is reporting that attorney Seth Carey of Auburn has defeated Alex Willette in the Republican primary for District Attorney of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, despite having his law license suspended due to sexual abuse allegations against him. In April, a Rumford judge granted a restraining order against him for a woman living in his home who accused Carey of sexually assaulting her.

On April 2, the Maine Republican Party called the accusations “credible” and urged Carey to drop out of the race. But Carey carried on with his Trumpian slogan “Build. That. Wall.” In May, Carey was issued a no-trespassing notice after he got into a heated altercation with Cumberland Farms employees who objected to the candidate placing signs on store property without permission, according to the Sun Journal. Carey told the SJ Wednesday that he needs to get his law license suspension dropped “and then it will be the biggest comeback in Maine political history.”