Live election night updates: Janet Mills, Chellie Pingree win reelection
Maine Public's Your Vote coverage is made possible through the support of AARP Maine, MEMIC, and the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein.
Janet Mills declared winner in Maine gubernatorial race
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills secured a second term by defeating former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, her longtime antagonist who had vowed to challenge her before he left office in 2019.
The Associated Press called the race shortly before 1 a.m., with Mills leading LePage, 54% to 43%.
With Janet Mills leading, Paul LePage addresses supporters but doesn't concede
Republican Paul LePage addressed supporters just before 11 p.m., telling them the numbers do not look good for him in the race for governor, but saying he's not conceding.
The race between Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, former Gov. LePage and independent Sam Hunkler has largely been framed as one that pits reproductive rights against inflation and the economy — for LePage, that means the high cost of energy.
"If heating oil is not as important as abortion, if you prefer abortion over heating oil, feeding your families, I'm telling you, I should have never gotten into politics," he said.
Not all the results are in, but LePage's hometown of Lewiston has reported that Mills has prevailed in the returns there.
LePage told supporters that he failed to deliver a strong enough message.
Chellie Pingree wins eighth term to Congress in Maine's 1st District
The Associated Press has called the race between U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Republican challenger Ed Thelander.
As of 11:21 p.m. Tuesday, Pingree had 58.9% of the vote compared with 41% for Thelander.
2nd Somali woman set to be elected to Maine House
Voters in South Portland are on track to elect Maine second Somali-American state legislator after Lewiston elected the first earlier tonight.
South Portland mayor Deqa Dhalac is winning nearly 70% of the vote for House District 120, with nearly 99% of the votes counted.
Speaking at an election watch party, Dhalac, a Democrat, says she was motivated to run so that she could be an example for young people in immigrant communities and communities of color.
"So I said, we have all of these young people in our community that are so vibrant, and so well educated, and so well driven, I need to really step up and do this," she says.
Dhalac's mayoral appointment ends in December, and she says she will serve out the last year of her city council term while also serving in Augusta.
Abdi, also a Democrat, won her race for House District 95 unopposed.
At campaign HQ, LePage supporters want to return to 'the way it used to be'
Republican Paul LePage is hoping to unseat Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.
A couple dozen supporters are eagerly watching election results at his campaign's election headquarters in Lewiston.
Pam Miller of Nobleboro says she's nervous but hopeful that LePage will win and "restore" Maine.
"Bring it back to the way it used to be. We had our freedoms. We didn't have lockdowns. And it wasn't one-party rule," she says.
If elected, it will be LePage's third, non-consecutive term as governor.
Bruce Poliquin arrives at Dysart's in Bangor
A few dozen supporters have gathered with Republican Bruce Poliquin's campaign at Dysart’s in Bangor.
Poliquin has just arrived. He's looking to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and independent Tiffany Bond to regain his 2nd Congressional District seat.
This has been one of the more expensive House races in the country, with national groups and outside committees pouring more than $21 million into the race.
Mills campaign upbeat as supporters gather in Portland
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills hasn't yet made an appearance at her campaign gathering in Portland, but supporters are gathering and the mood is festive.
Campaign spokesperson Mary-Erin Casale says the governor campaigned hard today.
"She started in Farmington this morning, she was then in Bangor, Lewiston, Scarborough. This governor has really competed on a statewide level," she says.
Casale says the campaign is heartened by the number of absentee ballots that voters requested, which she thinks portends well for Mills.
Mana Abdi becomes first Somali woman elected to Maine House
Democrat Mana Abdi of Lewiston won her State House race tonight.
Abdi was running unopposed after her Republican opponent dropped out in August.
South Portland mayor Deqa Dhalac is also running for a state legislative seat as a Democrat. If she wins, Dhalac would become the second Somali-American Mainer elected to the State House.
Pingree camp 'confident' she'll triumph over Republican challenger Ed Thelander
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine's 1st District has yet to make an appearance at the campaign gathering in Portland.
Pingree is seeking her eighth term in the House representing Maine's 1st Congressional District.
She has held a healthy lead over Republican challenger Ed Thelander in the polls throughout election season.
A Democratic campaign spokesperson says Pingree and her camp are feeling upbeat and confident about the night's outcome.
Two Somali women could join Maine State House for first time
Mana Abdi, a State House candidate running unopposed in Lewiston, is on the cusp of making history as Maine’s first Somali-American state legislator.
And she might have company — South Portland mayor Deqa Dhalac is also seeking a State House seat less than a year after becoming the country’s first Somali-American mayor.
Abdi, a Democrat, has been running unopposed since Aug. 18, when her Republican opponent Fred Sanborn-Silvers unexpectedly withdrew from the race — too late for the GOP to find a replacement candidate.
Sanborn-Silvers had previously posted on Facebook that Muslims “should not be allowed to hold public office.” He later tried to walk back that comment during an interview with Maine Public.
Abdi is now poised to win House District 95, which encompasses a racially and economically diverse section of Lewiston.
Meanwhile, Dhalac, also a Democrat, is facing Republican Michael James Dougherty in House District 120 Tuesday.
Dhalac entered the race in July after incumbent Democrat Victoria Morales withdrew from the race.
Maine secretary of state estimates 70% voter turnout, which could be first in the nation
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows noted that during the last gubernatorial election in 2018, about 65% of voters cast ballots.
That figure rose to about 76% during the 2020 presidential elections, and she predicted this year’s turnout could be around 70%, which would be extremely high for a midterm election.
“Mainers should be so proud,” Bellows said in an interview. “In 2020, we were third in the nation in voter participation. Given the high absentee ballot returns and the lines at polls today, we think we may be on track to be first in the country.”
Housing, abortion rights among concerns of southern and midcoast Maine voters
By 8:45 a.m., a line of about 15 people had formed outside the polling station at the Portland Expo Center.
After casting her ballot, Rachel Kim Yulee says her biggest concern is the rising cost of housing.
"It's been really stressing me out. I'm really nervous I'm gonna get priced out of my apartment," she says.
She says she’s in favor of the local ballot questions aimed at restricting the number of short term rentals in the city, and limiting who can operate them.
Libby Masalski, who moved to Maine last year, says this is her first time voting in the state. She says the onslaught of signs and advertising for the ballot initiatives was confusing.
"Yeah, I don't think it was that helpful. I mean, I think it honestly made it more confusing, because you see signs, it's just say, say no one everything and yes, yes, yes," she says.
Masalski, who says she tends to vote for Democrats, says she’s also concerned about threats to abortion rights.
As she turned out to vote in Belfast, Linda St. Peter says protecting women's right to choose is her most important issue.
"Women's rights are the most important thing to me, and that says everything about the candidate. If they don't think that women should have equal rights and have every opportunity to take care of their health care, then that says a lot. That's my issue," she says.
St. Peter says she is not so worried about the integrity of the election system.
"I'm very comfortable with it. I've worked at the polls before, and the polls are run very well. I'm not concerned about that. That's a false issue," she says.
But Belfast voter Eric Leppanen says he does have doubts about the system.
"Oh yeah, there's a lot of irregularities that have happened and are happening all around the country, so we'll see, hopefully every vote counts, and they will be counted for weeks, until they define the right winner," he says.
And Leppanen says he believes it's time for change.
"We need change, definitely. Because whatever's going on right now isn't working. Fuel has doubled, my gas in my car has doubled. My heating fuel has doubled, in just two years, which is pretty scary," he says.
Polls are open across Maine until 8 p.m.
Murray Carpenter gets situated at Dems HQ
Augusta voters express concerns over economy
As a steady trickle of voters headed to the polls in Augusta this morning, many, including Alan Bean, said the economy is their top concern.
"It's terrible. Oil prices are going up. You can't — no one can drill for oil now. The border isn't safe. They say that it's closed, but it's open. I mean there's a lot of stuff going on," he said.
Paul Douin, 83, said he has never missed a single vote. He says inflation and the border are at the top of his mind.
"Well I think that Paul LePage would do a great job because of what he did during his first four years for the economy," he said. "And I think that if he doesn't get elected or reelected, watch out for your pocket book."
For Pauline Doube, abortion rights is a top a concern. And as for whether she supports former Gov. LePage or incumbent Gov. Janet Mills?
"I don't believe in everything she does, but she has done a lot of good. And I think she will stick up for women's rights," she said.
Abortion is also important to Nancy Gervais.
"Abortion is one of the main ones, because I don't believe in that. And I want corruption removed from the government," she said.
Gervais said family values are important to her and others throughout Maine. She plans to volunteer later today as a poll watcher.
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says turnout is high
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says it's looking like voter turnout will be "very high" this Election Day, even after more than 200,000 Mainers voted using absentee ballots.
"We saw in the absentee ballot returns, a quarter-million absentee ballot requests," she said Tuesday morning. "That's a record for a gubernatorial election, and at the polls, we've seen lines in Portland. We've seen steady turnout all across the state."
During an interview with Maine Calling late Tuesday morning, Bellows said the only problems she's heard about so far are the kinds that often occur during the course of an Election Day.