Eric Brakey returns to Maine senate; Democrats win Auburn legislative seats

Nov. 9—AUBURN — Republican Eric Brakey will return to the State House in Augusta after a tight race Tuesday for Senate District 20 against Democrat Bettyann Sheats. The vote was 9,067 to 8,884.

The district encompasses parts of Auburn, Poland, Durham and New Gloucester.

Brakey and Sheats have previously served four years in the Legislature and were running for the seat after Democrat Ned Claxton did not seek reelection.

Brakey's return to the Senate follows consecutive defeats in federal races. He was the GOP's U.S. Senate candidate in 2018, when he lost to Angus King, and he lost a Republican congressional primary in 2020 for the chance to take on Jared Golden.

The win was among the only bright spots for the Maine GOP on Election Day. According to the Portland Press Herald, the District 20 race was one of the top focuses of Democratic campaign contributions, with more than $220,000 going toward Sheats or opposing Brakey.

On his Twitter account Wednesday morning, Brakey said his campaign "broke the trend" of the district being a bell-weather that predicts the Senate majority in each election.

"I'm sad to report that Senate Republicans will be the minority, but we won a district that history says we should not have," he said. "My priorities in the Maine Senate will be the same as always — defending the freedoms and paychecks of the Maine people from a government that takes us for granted."

In Auburn's other legislative races, Democrats took a pair of State House seats. Auburn farmer Kathy Shaw took District 88 over Republican James Sorcek, 2,060 to 2,003. Shaw said she's grateful for the support, adding, "I welcome open and honest conversations from the people I will represent to help make Auburn and our state the very best place to live, work and raise a family."

Former Auburn City Councilor Adam Lee bested independent candidate Benjamin Weisner in District 89, 1,336 to 1,018. Lee said Wednesday that he's "honored to have the support of the voters in District 89."

"I'm excited to get to work serving all the people in the district whether they voted for me or not," he said. "We have a number of challenges, most pressingly rising costs and inflation. We must work hard in Augusta to ease the burdens these create. For me, that work starts now."

Republican Laurel Libby was reelected in District 90, which represents parts of Auburn and Minot, after running unopposed.

Also in Auburn, voters approved five amendments to the City Charter, which came after the City Council and School Committee reviewed the charter and recommended a small number of changes. Most deal with language to better comply with other sections of the charter, or state law, and are not considered substantial changes.

When faced with a charter review that's required every 15 years, the city opted for a review by current officials instead of establishing an official charter commission, which could have led to more substantial changes in the structure of Auburn's government.

Most questions passed by a 6-2 ratio.