Special Senate election likely very close

7:00 PM, Aug 26, 2013   |    comments
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BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Monday was the final day of campaigning for what has become a hotly contested race for the state Senate.

Voters in Senate District 19 -- all of Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden -- go to the polls Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by former Senator Seth Goodall, who resigned to take a federal job in Boston. Three people are running for that seat and its become an intense, five week campaign, with the outcome hard to predict.

Republican Paula Benoit, Democrat Eloise Vitelli and Green Independent Daniel Stromgren spent Monday knocking on doors and making phone calls to line up a final few votes. The candidates all admit it's been hard to get voters' attention during August, and they expect turnout will be small as a result.

That means a few votes could decide the winner.

The major parties in Augusta are fighting hard to win the seat. Democrats hope to keep the seat in their party, and keep their four-vote majority in the Senate.

Republicans hope they can "flip" the seat, bring it into their column and make Senate votes tighter as a result. Democrats have also been using the race to campaign against Gov. Paul LePage, who will be running for re-election himself next year.

Several Democratic mailings have attacked Republican Benoit for allegedly backing LePage's policies, and even criticize her for working for LePage when she was manager of the Blaine House, the Governor's residence.

Benoit says she told Republicans not to run any attack ads or mailings against her opponents, and says the party has followed her wishes. Benoit told NEWS CENTER, "I'm not a rubber stamp" for LePage, and also said, "his approach is not mine."

Meanwhile Stromgren, the Green Independent, says voters have told him they are tired of the divisiveness and polarization in Augusta, which he says is the fault of the two parties.

Stromgren says that helps him make the case for electing someone who isn't part of the two party system.

The winner of the race will hold the seat for the coming year, but will have to run again in 2014 if they want to keep it.


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