Republicans are now in control of the state Senate in Maine, and when the new legislature convened for the first time Wednesday, party members used their new-found authority to put a Republican in a seat that the Democrats believe may be rightfully theirs.
When the gavel struck for the first time this session, the Senate wasted no time seating Republican Cathy Manchester of Gray in a 20-14 vote.
"It was exciting to walk in and be recognized as part of the Senate," Sen.-elect Manchester said.
Her arrival was less exciting to her opponent, Democrat Cathy Breen of Falmouth, who, along with her party's leadership, says the outcome of the election remains very much in question.
"I was hoping today would go differently," Breen said.
Specifically, Breen wanted the seat to remain vacant until a newly-formed special election committee had a chance to review the strange details surrounding the ballot count in District 25. Breen won her race on Election Day by a margin of 32 votes, but after a recount, Manchester emerged the winner by a margin of nine. Of particular concern are 21 ballots discovered on Long Island, all marked for Manchester, that were not included in the original tabulation.
Breen says the Long Island numbers just don't add up.
"We have 171 votes and 192 ballots. That is a troubling, serious mystery that has to be unraveled," Breen said.
A seven-member committee made up of four veteran senators, four Republicans and three Democrats, is now charged with getting to the bottom of this ballot gate, without resorting to partisan politics.
"This is political but all of us have been around awhile," Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta) said. "We all believe in the integrity of this institution and know what we do sets precedent for the future."
On this first day of the new session, a now-divided House and Senate made speeches pledging bi-partisanship. The first test of that will be when the Senate election committee gets down to business next Tuesday.