Andrews wins GOP House District 79 primary in bid for third term

·3 min read

Jun. 15—PARIS — In a rare three-way primary, Rep. John Andrews, R-Paris, fought off two challengers Tuesday in the Republican race for Maine House District 79.

Andrews, a two-term incumbent from Paris, received 51% of the vote, compared to Ryan Ricci of Paris in second with 28%, followed by Dannie Abbott of West Paris with 21%. The actual vote count has Andrews with 322, Ricci with 181 and Abbott with 135.

The House district includes Paris, West Paris, Sumner and Woodstock.

While Abbott won his hometown of West Paris by a 48-41 margin over Andrews and fell just one vote shy of Andrews in Sumner, 33-32, he could not overcome the large cushion Andrews and Ricci enjoyed in their hometown of Paris, where Andrews received 205 votes, Ricci 138 and Abbott just 31.

Even though Abbott easily defeated Ricci in three of the four towns in the district, Ricci's 138 votes in Paris were more than Abbott's total vote count of 135.

The vote totals by town:

— Paris: Andrews 205, Ricci 138, Abbott 31.

— Sumner: Andrews 33, Ricci 5, Abbott 32.

— West Paris: Andrews 41, Ricci 23, Abbott 48.

— Woodstock: Andrews 39, Ricci 15, Abbott 24.

With the victory, Andrews will appear on the November ballot to face off against Don Berry of Sumner, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the primary.

Andrews, 43, was the former town manager of Buckfield and a former Paris selectman. Besides serving in the Legislature, he works as a substitute teacher and coaches youth football and lacrosse.

Abbott has worked at the Jay paper mill for 30 years and is a firearms instructor. Frustrated with what he describes as an erosion of the people's constitutional rights during the pandemic, Abbott said he made nine trips to the State House, including stops at the law library to familiarize himself with the laws, statutes and policies.

Describing himself as a "strong constitutionalist," Abbott claimed he was the only true Republican in the race, pointing out that Andrews left the party during his last term to become a Libertarian due to a dispute over committee assignments with party leaders, only to return to the party for the primary. Abbott also said that Ricci was a one-time Democrat.

Andrews addressed the issue, saying he won his past two elections running as a Republican. Andrews added that he was the only NRA "A-rated and endorsed candidate in the race" and that he had introduced a bill to lower the state income tax.

"I am running as a Republican because of the outstanding group of returning Republican legislators who will make up the House Republicans for the 131st Legislature," Andrews said before the primary. "I want to be a part of that group. I want to bring my experience, principles, policy knowledge and drive to that caucus so that we can hit the ground running on Day 1 to enact constitutional and fiscally sound policy that benefits the residents and businesses of Maine."

Ricci, 31, is the owner of the restaurant 290 Main Street in Norway and serves as coach of the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School freshman girls basketball team.

He stressed the need for better communication and the need to end gridlock and for both sides to come together to work out solutions to the state's problems. He also said the state must do more to invest in its youth.