BAR HARBOR — Louie Luchini, the Democratic state senator for District 7, covering much of Hancock County, resigned effective Jan. 18. He has accepted a position with the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Serving the people of Hancock County – the community that raised me – for the past 12 years has been the honor of a lifetime,” he wrote in his resignation letter to Maine Senate President Troy Jackson dated Jan. 18. “I look forward to continuing to serve my community and the entire state in my new role with the federal government.”
The vacant Senate seat will be filled by a special election called by Governor Janet Mills. Each political party will hold a caucus to decide its nominee.
Within 24 hours of Luchini’s resignation, the Islander learned that Representatives Lynne Williams and Genevieve McDonald are planning to throw their hats in the ring for the seat. Williams, a Democrat who lives in Bar Harbor, represents District 135, which includes Bar Harbor, Lamoine and Mount Desert. McDonald, a Democrat from Stonington, represents District 134, which includes the Cranberry Isles, Deer Isle, Frenchboro, Isle au Haut, North Haven, Southwest Harbor, Stonington, Swan’s Island, Tremont and Vinalhaven, plus the unorganized territory of Marshall Island Township.
Luchini told the Islander he plans to remain in the local area and work out of the SBA’s Augusta office.
“I joined the Office of Advocacy at SBA because it presents a great opportunity to continue to serve our state – and the other New England states – by giving them a stronger voice in Washington,” he said. “Here in Maine, small businesses are the cornerstone of our communities and economy.”
He continued, “I feel I can have a large impact in my new role at different levels of government. The two jobs differ in many ways. As an advocate, I’ll be working year-round with businesses to help them grow, identify overly burdensome regulations and strengthen their voice in [Washington] D.C.”
The Legislature meets for just part of the year, although legislators draft bills and help constituents all year long, Luchini noted.
“While the job of legislator is tough at times, I’ve greatly enjoyed representing the people of Hancock County in the Senate … I appreciate all those who are willing to serve the public – it’s not an easy job, and the political environment has become quite toxic.”
Current legislation submitted by Luchini will continue in the legislative process, he added.
Luchini was a second-term senator who had previously served four terms in the House of Representatives, representing Ellsworth and Trenton. He would have been up for reelection this November.
Maine legislators work part time in Augusta, and many hold outside employment or are self-employed. However, the Hatch Act prohibits those employed by the federal government with programs financed by federal loans or grants from certain political activity, which includes being a candidate for a public partisan office.
As a state representative from 2010 to 2018, Luchini served as House chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs for three terms and chairman of the House Ethics Committee. Elected to the Senate in 2018 and again in 2020, he co-chaired the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and successfully sponsored legislation aimed at helping restaurants and bars during the pandemic. Throughout his legislative career, Luchini supported legislation aimed at stopping political action committee contributions to individual legislative candidates as well as for property tax relief, greater child-care access, education and the environment.
A 1999 Ellsworth High School graduate, Luchini received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University, ran in two cross-country Olympic trials and signed a professional athlete contract with Nike. He also coaches the Ellsworth High School cross-country team, a role he said may or may not work in tandem with his new position.