By Zachary Guiod
The 2018 midterms were historic for the state of Maine in more ways than one. Mainers elected the first female governor in the state’s nearly 200-year history, and the first instance of rank choice voting for a federal election happened in the 2nd congressional district. Voters supported hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds for infrastructure and education. The results of this election are going to directly affect the lives of many Mainers.
Janet Mills (D) won the gubernatorial election by 7 points over Republican challenger Shawn Moody and independent Terry Hayes. She hopes her election will send a ‘‘message to the women and girls of Maine of any age.’’ Democrats also won both houses of the State Legislature. This gives Democrats in Augusta the power to implement their agenda, which includes expanding Medicaid, promoting offshore wind development and reversing LePage’s cutbacks to public food assistance.
Two of the incumbents will be returning to the U.S. Capitol to represent Maine in the 116th Congress. Angus King (I) won his senate seat easily, earning 54.4 percent of the vote compared to his challengers Eric Brakey (R), who got 35.3 percent, and Zak Ringelstein (D), who got 10.3 percent. Chellie Pingree (D) also cruised to reelection, winning 58.8 percent of the vote, with her opponents, Mark Holbrook (R) and Martin Grohman (I), receiving 32.4 percent and 8.7 percent respectively.
The 2nd district had an interesting election because it was the first in the nation to use the ranked-choice voting system Mainers voted for in the past two elections. In the first round, incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) won with more than 2,000 votes and 46.3 percent of votes to Jared Golden’s (D) 45.6 percent. This led to a runoff between Golden and Poliquin, which ended Thursday, with Golden winning by about 3,000 votes, getting 50.53 percent of the votes compared to Poliquin’s 49.47 percent.
Golden’s victory is an additional boost to the “blue wave” that flipped the House to Democratic control. The Democrats gained 34 seats in the House, and have the potential to gain 39 after all the votes are counted. This is the biggest gain since the election that followed Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency. One-party rule in Washington has come to an end.
However, the “blue wave” wasn’t as big as some had hoped. Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate, expanding their majority from 51 seats to 53. Several high-profile races, such as the Texas Senate race in which Ted Cruz defeated Beto O’Rourke, left Democrats disappointed. And even though they may have won the House, the Republicans still control the Senate and presidency, so any Democratic priorities will have to be put on the back burner until the next election, in 2020. For now, all they can do is be a check on Donald Trump and the Republican Senate.