A former Maine state representative was leading in the Republican primary for a competitive House district on Tuesday evening, but additional voting rounds under ranked-choice voting might be necessary to declare a victor.
Dale Crafts had a lead but was shy of the 50% threshold with half of precincts reporting. The 2nd Congressional District race also included former television reporter Adrienne Bennett and former state Sen. Eric Brakey.
But Bennett appeared to concede on Wednesday morning, saying in an email that she called Crafts to congratulate him. "He has my full, 100 percent support." She is expected to join Crafts Wednesday at a press conference at 11 a.m.
If there is no majority winner, the state will determine a winner under its ranked choice voting system in which the last-place candidate is eliminated and those voters’ second choices are reallocated to determine a winner.
The process could take several days. Crafts said he’s prepared to wait.
“We think we’re going to win this,” he said. “We’ve been out on the campaign trail the last two, three weeks and saw this trend.”
The winner will run against Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, who was elected in 2018. Golden benefited from the ranked choice voting system in which he narrowly defeated the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, in a second round of counting.
Ranked choice voting is unlikely to be a factor in November race because third-party candidates have not emerged. Democrats will be looking to hold their lead in the U.S. House of Representatives nationwide.
The vast, mostly rural 2nd Congressional District is geographically the largest Congressional district east of the Mississippi River, and has been hotly contested in recent elections.
Former state rep leads Maine GOP primary for House seat
Trump decisively won its electoral vote in the 2016 presidential election. Maine is one of two states to apportion electoral votes by district.
The district figures to be in play for Trump again this year, though his approval nationwide has taken a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic. A June poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found a majority of Americans think Trump is exacerbating tensions in a moment of crisis.
All three Republicans in this year’s House primary cast themselves as potential key allies for Trump. Golden was the sole congressman who cast a split vote on the two decisions about whether to impeach President Trump. He said the House investigation “unearthed a pattern of evidence that demonstrates the corrupt intent on the part of the president,” but he also said Trump’s efforts to obstruct Congress didn’t rise to the level of a crime.
Golden ran unopposed in this year’s Democratic primary.