Down East 2013 ©
On June 8, the Governor’s race and the tax reform veto referendum will be headlining the ballot, but there are also more than thirty contested legislative primaries throughout the state.
The four primary races for seats in the Maine State Senate could have a great deal of influence on the final outcome in what is expected to be a close contest in November.
A swing of three seats to the Republicans would give them control of the chamber. The GOP leadership is bullish about making gains in an election cycle they see as being favorable to Republicans nationwide and, according to a party release, they’ve have had success recruiting top-tier candidates who have declined to run in previous years.
Two of those new recruits are facing each other in Senate District 1, where State Representative Sarah "Sally" Lewin of Eliot is facing off against York Selectman Michael Estes for the chance to take on Representative Dawn Hill, who launched and then abandoned a gubernatorial campaign earlier this cycle. The District 1 seat is open following the retirement of Senator Peter Bowman. I profiled  the District 1 general election race last year.
Estes  is the owner of Estes Oil Burner Service and seems to have a high profile in York, the district’s most populous town.
Lewin  spearheaded the signature gathering in York County as part of the successful statewide effort to put the tax reform measure up for a vote. Asked why she’s running for senate, she replied “Jobs, jobs, jobs, taxes, taxes, taxes.”
In Senate District 14, Democratic Senator Bruce Bryant is term-limited, leaving an open seat. Byant won his last race by nearly two to one, but past election contests in the district have been much closer.
Representative Sawin Millett, a veteran legislator from Waterford, will be carrying the GOP standard in November and the June election between Democrats John Patrick of Rumford and Daniel Smiley of Jay will decide his opponent.
Patrick is a former state legislator who was termed out of the District 92 seat in 2008. He is a paper mill worker and union leader and won his House seat four times thanks to large margins in his hometown.
Smiley seems to be getting quite a bit of support from conservative Republicans in his quest for the Democratic nomination. In a thoroughly amusing thread  on As Maine Goes  titled “Smiley to Smite Leftist in State Senate District 14,” Republicans including 2008 CD2 congressional candidate John Frary and District 89 Republican Representative Lance Harvell throw their support behind Smiley, who is described as “a true small government conservative.”
The voice of opposition on this thread comes from Republican lawyer Dan Billings, who faults Smiley, a publisher, for his design work . “I have seen materials that Smiley has designed for other candidates. I found them nasty and ineffective. And I am not someone who is against negative campaigns,” writes Billings.
In Senate District 17, someone tried to destroy  some nomination signatures for Republican Garrett Mason, but he still made it on the ballot and will face Russell Pack in June for a chance to oppose Democratic Senator John Nutting in November. Pack has an extensive website , what appears to be a rather nebulous vanity charity  and the support of the tea partiers . He was defeated by Nutting 65 percent to 35 percent in 2008 and whoever wins the primary this year will have a tough race against the veteran legislator.
Two Democrats are seeking the chance to fill the Senate District 28 seat, currently held by Democratic Senator Dennis Damon, who is term-limited. District 37 Representative Jim Schatz of Blue Hill will face former Legislator Lawrence “Skip” Greenlaw in the June Primary. The winner will contend with Republican Representative Brian Langley of Ellsworth and Green Independent candidate Lynne Williams in November.
Schatz, now in his third term in the House, has worked as a civil servant in state and local government and is now an innkeeper in Blue Hill.
Greenlaw served in the legislature in the 70s, but made a more recent political splash when he led the failed effort to repeal Maine’s school consolidation law, serving as chair of the Maine Coalition to Save Schools . Schatz also opposed school consolidation.