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Democrat Nicole Grohoski wins closely watched special Maine Senate race in Hancock County

Campaign photo
Nicole Grohoski

Democratic Rep. Nicole Grohoski of Ellsworth has won a special election that has been viewed as a potential first skirmish in this fall's battle for control of the Maine Senate.

Grohoski, who currently represents Ellsworth and Trenton in the Maine House, was leading Republican Brian Langley 62% to 37% late Tuesday night in the Senate District 7 race, according to unofficial election results, with more than two thirds of precincts reporting.

Langley, who is a restaurant owner and educator, has previously represented the area in both the House and Senate. The two had been competing to fill a Hancock County seat that has been empty since January when Democratic Sen. Louis Luchini stepped down to take a job in the Biden administration.

The region has a history of sending both Democrats and Republicans to Augusta, so Tuesday's special election was regarded as a potential bellwether for the fall. The candidates, political parties and outside groups spent more than $300,000 on the race, with much of that spent by Democrats to support Grohoski, even though the winner may not actually cast any votes because the Legislature is adjourned. Grohoski and Langley will face off again during the November election.

Democrats currently hold 22 of the Senate’s 35 seats, including Grohoski. But the chamber has changed hands multiple times over the past 12 years, and the Maine Republican Party has made recapturing the Senate a top priority during an election year when Republicans are expected to have a political advantage nationally.

An Ellsworth native, Grohoski works as a cartographer and has served for four years in the Maine House. She is a progressive but also campaigned on her willingness to work across the aisle on complex issues, such as energy, the environment and health care.

“Each and every day during this campaign, we worked to build a broad coalition of volunteers and voters from all over the county,” Grohoski said in a statement late Tuesday. “Regardless of political party or ideology, we came together for one common goal: to make sure that the constituents of District 7 have an ally in Augusta. I am eager to continue my work to make life better for my neighbors as their State Senator and will give Senate District 7 my all.”

Langley and Grohoski will face off again in November for the same seat, only with a slightly different pool of voters because the district boundaries will change due to the once-per-decade redistricting process.

“Congratulations to Nicole Grohowski on getting folks out to vote and winning the Special Election for Senate District 7,” Langley wrote in a Facebook post late Tuesday night. “The district now changes due to redistricting making the November election a new one.”