Maine candidates are heading into the final stretch and all eyes are on the battle for the Blaine House. While the tight three-person race for governor is likely to get the most attention this fall, the contest for Maine’s open 2nd Congressional District seat and local races that will determine which party controls the state House and Senate are also sure to be highly competitive.
Here are five things to know about what Maine voters will be deciding on Election Day:
GUBERNATORIAL DEJA VU
The race for Maine governor looks a lot like it did four years ago, when Republican Paul LePage narrowly beat independent Eliot Cutler, with Democrat Libby Mitchell coming in third. This time around, it’s LePage, Cutler and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud who are facing off. Polls show LePage and Michaud close, with Cutler lagging by about 20 percentage points. The independent says he’s hopeful for another last-minute surge in 2010, but Democrats are attempting to mobilize liberal support and resources behind Michaud early this time around.
LEGISLATIVE DEJA VU, TOO
Republicans are working to wrest control of the Legislature from Democrats, who retook majorities in both chambers in 2012. The candidates include former lawmakers, like John Martin, Bill Diamond, Les Fossel and Susan Morissette. Martin, who served 46 years in the Legislature before being defeated in 2012, said one of his first actions would be to introduce a bill to end term limits, arguing that they’ve put too much power in the hands of lobbyists and state officials.
Of Maine’s congressional races, the 2nd District looks to be most competitive, pitting a traditional conservative, Bruce Poliquin, against a liberal Democrat, Emily Cain. Look for outside groups to pump millions of dollars into the race for a seat that has been held by Democrats for nearly two decades and is being vacated by Michaud.
Animal activists succeeded in placing on the ballot a proposal to end the hunting of bears with bait, traps and dogs. Critics of those techniques say those hunting practices are cruel, while supporters say they’re necessary to keep the state’s bear population in check. An identical referendum was rejected by Maine voters in 2004.
Several Maine cities will be voting on whether to make it legal for people 21 and older to possess marijuana. Portland was the first to legalize possession of small amounts a year ago, though it was largely symbolic because the state said it will continue to enforce its own ban. This year, proposals will be on the ballot in South Portland, York and Lewiston.