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As first month of session nears end, more Maine lawmakers look to election

Democrats currently control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In a meeting room at, appropriately, Augusta’s Senator Inn, Maine Senate Republicans showed off their slate of candidates.

“Folks, this is the Senate 2022 comeback team,” current GOP Leader Sen. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, said. 

It’s a team of candidates he hopes will at least put the GOP back into a more influential position in the upper chamber. Currently, Democrats have a solid 21-13 majority, making it difficult for Republicans to influence bills.   

They want to change that and hope the 2022 election will provide that chance.

“Democracy functions best when we have divided government,” Sen. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, said. 

Democrats currently control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

“When there is divided government, better conversations happen. There is more collaboration, and better work gets done for the people of Maine,” Pouliot said.

Several of the candidates claimed democratic policies in recent years have resulted in higher costs for Maine citizens and businesses.

“Maine has become unaffordable to live here for the Mainers who have grown up here,” candidate Abden Simmons said. 

The arguments are similar to comments being made by GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage, which the top Democrat underscored in the Legislature, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. 

“And you can see the playbook coming. Here comes LePage. Republicans gearing up. What do they want to do? Give income tax cuts to their buddies across the state, the high price people. That’s not what’s gonna make sure everyday people are doing well,” Jackson told NEWS CENTER Maine.

He said Democrats have put together a strong slate of senate candidates and added he believes the policies they have enacted in recent years have been good for Maine. And he will be telling that story to voters.

“There’s a lot at stake. For us, we believe strongly in fighting for health care, prescription drugs, natural resources like lobstering, farming, and logging and property tax relief. These are all things we just did,” Jackson said. 

The race for control of the state Senate is a collection of 35 separate races and will be overshadowed by the battle over who will be Maine’s next governor.  

The outcome, however, will play a significant role in everything the next governor wants to do.

Campaigns are supposed to be set aside when lawmakers work in the State House. Once the current session ends in April, all those candidates will be full speed ahead, campaigning until November.

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