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Ronald Russell wins Republican nomination in Maine's 1st Congressional District

Ronald Russell defeated Andrew Piantidosi late Tuesday night to capture the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree in November.

Russell, who lives in Kennebunkport, was leading Piantidosi with 56% of the vote early Wednesday morning with more than 90% of the vote counted, according to unofficial results compiled by The Associated Press.

Russell retired after a 30-year career in the U.S. Army where he served as an Airborne Ranger and in the special forces. He then spent several years working in the defense industry and as a small business owner. Piantidosi works in the tech industry and lives in Cape Elizabeth with his family.

History suggests that Russell faces an uphill climb to unseat Pingree, who was first elected to Congress in 2008. Since then, she has consistently been reelected with between 58% and 63% of the vote in Maine's left-leaning 1st District.

In Maine's 2nd Congressional District, former race car driver and state lawmaker Austin Theriault of Fort Kent defeated fellow lawmaker Mike Soboleski of Phillips for the GOP nomination. Theriault will face off against incumbent Democratic Congressman Jared Golden this fall in a race that many political observers rate as a toss-up.