Republicans’ hopes of winning the Maine Legislature look slightly better

Former U.S. Rep. David Emery, now a Republican candidate for the Maine Senate, speaks at a gubernatorial candidate forum in 2006. (BDN file)

Democrats still look well-positioned to make gains in the race for control of the Maine Legislature in 2016, but Republicans have gotten a few more opportunities in nip-and-tuck districts.

The Bangor Daily News first published district-by-district analyses of the Maine Senate and House of Representatives in May. It’s subjective, taking past election results, voter registration data and candidate strength into account.

It didn’t look good for Republicans, who must both hold and gain seats in heavily Democratic areas to win a majority in either chamber this presidential year.

It doesn’t look much different after an update this week, reflecting the June primaries and a Monday deadline to replace candidates who dropped out after winning primaries.

We still give Democrats an advantage in 18 districts in the Senate and 80 in the House — enough for majorities in each chamber. But Republicans helped themselves in three places.

  • They recruited former U.S. Rep. David Emery of Tenants Harbor to face freshman Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, in a district leaning Democratic by 3 percentage points. We moved the seat from Leans Democratic to Toss-up.
  • In a Windham House race, former Rep. Jane Pringle dropped out of the race against Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican in a seat that’s only +1 to Democrats. He’s now unopposed. Rating: Toss-up —> Strong Republican
  • In Waldo County, former Rep. Ryan Harmon, R-Palermo, faces Stanley Paige Ziegler, a Montville Democrat. The district leans slightly Republican, but is held by Rep. Christine Burstein, D-Lincolnville. Rating: Leans D —> Leans R

The news isn’t all great for Republicans. They couldn’t find a candidate to face Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, who barely won his seat in 2014, after former Lewiston Police Chief William Welch withdrew amid campaign finance issues.

But it’s clear that they did just a little bit more to improve a tough standing going on to November.

Correction: An earlier version of the House graphic transposed the parties of the Democrat and Republican running in District 147 and left out an unenrolled candidate running in District 12. It was a data entry error.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.