State of Maine: Respectful campaigns a good sign

How about that voter turnout? Many polling places had lines out the door for the better part of Election Day. It was a beautiful sight. Most voters were cheerful, chatting up their friends and neighbors as the line inched along.

In Hancock County, Great Pond led the way with 37 of its 44 registered voters casting ballots for an 84 percent turnout. Southwest Harbor was close behind at 80 percent. Seven towns were in the 70’s. Only Castine, Dedham, Eastbrook, Gouldsboro and Stonington had voter turnout of less than 60 percent. Overall turnout for Hancock County was 62 percent.

There was a certain sense of relief as voters waited to cast their votes. It’s over! The ads, the debates, the robocalls, the voter surveys — enough! Finally, we got to vote and be done with it. There was an air of celebration even though the results were not yet tallied. After the polls closed we started to get numbers.

The four incumbents with all or part of their districts in Hancock County won re-election, so we will be welcoming back Senator Kim Rosen (R-Bucksport) and Representatives Richard Campbell (R-Orrington), Brian Hubbell (D-Bar Harbor) and Larry Lockman (R-Amherst), though Lockman’s Hancock County towns went for opponent Doug Bunker, a Franklin Democrat.

In the Senate contest two term-limited House members faced off. Louie Luchini (D-Ellsworth) racked up big numbers over Richard Malaby (R-Hancock), taking almost 64percent of the vote. There were no cliffhangers in local legislative races. Victories ranged from comfortable to overwhelming.

Sherm Hutchins (R-Penobscot), who served one previous term in the legislature a few decades back, won the District 131 House race over Nathalie Arruda (D-Orland). “Billy Bob” Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) defeated fellow lobsterman Kylie Bragdon (D-Winter Harbor); Genevieve McDonald (D-Stonington), also a lobsterman, won a 2:1 victory over Philip Brady (R-Deer Isle). Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth) defeated Mark Remick (R-Trenton).

This lull before the legislature convenes in January is a good time to meet your new representatives. If you plan to be politically active it would be helpful to make their acquaintance now. If you have a head of steam up about a particular issue invite them for coffee, fill them in on the subject and let them know your opinion.

That legislator can then alert you if the subject comes up during the session, or call on you if there is a need for help with testimony or background information. Make your friends before you need them.

We are fortunate in Hancock County that local legislative races were conducted with a minimum of acrimony. Maybe none. For victors who sing “kumbaya” after the election, their campaigns may be a good predictor of how they will approach governing or legislating.

A candidate’s campaign style is the baggage they carry when they begin public service.

Candidates who were respectful of their opponents and could manage a debate with civility and good humor will almost certainly be legislators prepared to listen to a variety of points of view among their constituents. They will be approachable, courteous and fair-minded, and even those who did not support them may trust them.

Candidates who are bullying, sarcastic or dishonest are not going to change their stripes should they reach office. Their opposition will be dug in. They may make a show of harmony but it is likely that what they were willing to do or tolerate on the campaign trail is what they will do or tolerate in office.

Two candidates’ votes combined could not take down U.S. Senator Angus King, who ended up with almost 55percent of the vote. Democrat Zak Ringelstein alternated between poking at King and seeking second-choice votes for him.

Republican Eric Brakey’s campaign pitch ranged from the mystifying (lava lamps and tie dye) to the delusional, claiming just the day before the election that he had “surged to within striking distance of Angus King.” Brakey pulled just over a third of the votes. His campaign message was mostly a cut and paste of every trite campaign bullet his team could invent.

Just one race triggered a ranked choice decision. In the 2nd Congressional District neither Democrat Jared Golden nor Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin reached 50 percent. Ballots were gathered from all over the state and taken to Augusta for ranked choice tallying.

Golden has said he will accept the results of the process. Poliquin has avoided a straight yes or no but has made ominous noises about “ongoing concerns” with the voting, saying he will be monitoring the ranked choice process closely.

Perhaps the surprise of the day was Janet Mills’ margin of victory in what was called a toss-up race. In the final tally she was about seven percentage points ahead of Republican Shawn Moody.

A salute to town clerks and poll workers statewide. Obsessively organized and indefatigable, they kept the process orderly and secure. Hats off to them.

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Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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