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Republican primary for Senate seat decided by ranked-choice runoff

Ranked-choice voting was used Thursday to determine the winner of a primary race for a Maine Senate seat in the Waterville area.

None of the three Republicans competing in Senate District 16 – Rep. Michael Perkins, Kevin Kitchin or Mark Andre – received more than 50 percent of the vote after the first tally on Tuesday night. Perkins led the group with 44 percent of the vote. So on Thursday, the Maine Secretary of State's Office held a ranked-choice runoff to decide the primary race.

In the end, Perkins emerged as the winner with 52 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Kitchin. As the third-place finisher on Tuesday, Andre was eliminated from contention and the vote total was retabulated factoring in the second-choice preferences of voters who had initially supported Andre. The race for Senate District 16 – which includes the city of Waterville as well as Albion, Fairfield, Oakland and Winslow – was the only State House contest to be decided by a ranked-choice tabulation during Tuesday’s elections.

Perkins said afterward that he was pleased but that the experience hadn't changed his mind on the process.

"They did a good job. They did a phenomenal job, very transparent and all very well done,” Perkins, who represents Oakland and Sidney in the Maine House, said of the local and state elections staff. “But I don't like ranked-choice voting. I think it's wrong."

Perkins will face Democrat David LaFountain on the November ballot.