Maine voters elected four unenrolled candidates to the Maine House this year and re-elected Richard Woodbury to the Maine Senate, (in addition to sending Angus King to Washington).
According to Ballot Access News, these five state legislators join twenty other minor party and independent candidates across the country in making up the largest group of such candidates to be elected since 1942, when 31 candidates outside of the major parties won seats in state legislatures.
The story of the candidates in Maine, however, is much deeper than just their lack of party identifiaction, and just because they’re independent doesn’t mean they inhabit some kind of ideological middle ground. In fact, all four House members lean towards the left side of the political spectrum, some even more so than the bulk of the Democratic Caucus (which they will likely join). They also have different partisan histories, having left all three Maine political parties in order to become unenrolled.
A quick roundup:
Ben Chipman of Portland is a former member of the Green Independent Party. He defeated former Democratic Representative Herb Adams and Republican Gwendolyne Tuttle in this year’s election after winning an open-seat race in 2010.
Joe Brooks of Winterport previously served as a Democratic Representative for three terms. He defeated Republican Leo LaChance to win his seat.
Jeff Evangelos of Friendship, a former Democrat, won over Republican Robert Carter despite a conservative PAC attacking him for being too “extreme” and sending a mailer quoting Evangelos saying that he had left the Democratic Party because he was “disappointed that they haven’t taken Bush and impeached him for lying to us into that war in Iraq.”
Jim Campbell of Newfield is a former four-term Republican Representative who broke with his party in 2009 over same-sex marriage and then left the GOP in 2010 over “their failure to address the health care crisis in a meaningful way.”