GOPAC’s Top Races to Watch: Maine State Senate

All thirty-five seats that make up the Maine State Senate are up for election this year as Republicans work to boost their 19-15-1 majority in the chamber. The GOP is looking for a 1-2 seat increase in the state’s upper chamber at the same time Democrats are trying to upend the narrow Republican majority and take back the Senate.

As it stands, Republicans control the Maine House, Senate and Governorship. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s unemployment rate in August of 2012 came in below the national unemployment rate, 7.6% to 8.1%. But there is still work to be done. By boosting Republican majorities in the State Senate, the Senate GOP can move forward, with support from the citizens of Maine, to “restore spending and borrowing accountability to the Legislature, to make Maine a more affordable place to live and work, and to strengthen your communities through rational policy making.”

The four Republican candidates featured in this week’s “Top Races to Watch” will be key to increasing the Republican majority in the Maine Senate this November. All have committed to be “traditionally funded” candidates, meaning they have declined to use Maine’s taxpayer dollars and committed instead to raise their own money for their campaign. Two candidates are running in open seat elections left vacant by term limits, while two Republican candidates are working to unseat incumbent Senators and help advance conservative values in Maine. Here’s a look at the top Republican candidates to watch over the next six weeks as the GOP works to boost its strength in the Pine Tree State on Election Day:

Ruth Summers (R) vs James Boyle (D)

  • District 6: Scarborough, Gorham, Westbrook
  • Voter make-up: Lean Democrat
  • Open seat, possible GOP pick-up

GOPACRepublican candidate Ruth Summers — a mother, small business owner and U.S. Navy reserve — is running against Democrat James Boyle in the race for the open seat in District 6, left vacant by Democratic Senator Philip Bartlett who cannot run for reelection due to term limits.

As the owner of Little Hands Consignment, Summers understands small business and is committed to creating a climate in Maine to create jobs and help small businesses grow by keeping taxes low. And as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, Ruth Summers is dedicated to ensuring that Maine’s veterans are taken care of.

Ruth is the wife of Charlie Summers, the Republican candidate running to fill the U.S. Senate seat in Maine, left open by GOP Senator Olympia Snowe’s decision to retire.

Ruth is putting up a strong showing in polls, but it will take a strong effort through Election Day to replace a Democratic incumbent in a district that tends to lean Democratic. A victory by Summers would count as a GOP pick-up, helping to enhance the Republican majority in the State Senate.

Support Ruth Summers.

Chris Tyll (R) vs Senator Richard Woodbury (I)

  • District 11: Cumberland County
  • Voter make-up: Lean Democrat
  • Challenging incumbent, possible GOP pick-up

GOPACAfter running unopposed in the June primary, Republican Chris Tyll now looks to unseat Senator Richard Woodbury, an Independent, in Maine’s Senate District 11.

A former U.S. Navy Seal, small business owner (Pat’s Pizza in Old Port) and father of three, Chris Tyll is running on a platform of “Economic Improvement, Education, and Empowerment.” This includes fostering an environment to allow for small business growth and job creation, utilizing Maine’s strong education system by incentivizing students to find and create jobs in their home state, and empowering government at the most local level to serve Maine’s citizens.

Committed to giving back to his community, Chris Tyll is a member of American Legion Post 91-Yarmouth, the Maine Restaurant Association, and is Chairman of the Portland Veteran Network with the Portland’s Chamber of Commerce.

While voters in this district tend to lean Democratic, Chris Tyll is a strong candidate with the leadership experience necessary to get Maine back to work. His victory in unseating Senator Richard Woodbury would boost the Republican majority in the Maine State Senate.

Support Chris Tyll.

Representative Les Fossel (R) vs Senator Christopher Johnson (D)

  • District 20: Lincoln County (except Dresden), Windsor, Washington, Friendship
  • Voter make-up: Toss-up
  • Challenging incumbent, possible GOP pick-up

Republican State Representative Les Fossel has represented Maine’s 53rd House District since 2008. This year he is running for the State Senate’s 20th District to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Christopher Johnson, the most liberal member of Maine’s upper chamber.

While Senator Johnson has earned the lowest pro-business ranking of any State Senator, according to the Maine Economic Research Institute, Les Fossel is a contractor and business owner committed to creating jobs and getting Maine working again. He is, in his own words, running to “cooperate to create a prosperous Maine — not fight over our share of poverty.”

During his service in the House, Fossel has served on the Health and Human Services Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Government Oversight Committee. Outside of the Legislature, Les has also served on the Alna School Board and was a former board member of the Morris Farm Trust.

In what is a true toss-up district, Les Fossel has a strong chance to defeat the liberal Senator Johnson and add to the GOP majority in Maine’s Senate.

Support Les Fossel.

Representative Andre Cushing (R) vs Sherman Leighton (D)

  • District 33: southern Penobscot County
  • Voter make-up: Lean Republican
  • Defending open Republican seat

In southern Penobscot County’s District 33, Republican State Representative Andre Cushing is running to replace GOP Senator Debra Plowman, who is not seeking reelection this year due to term limits. He faces Democrat Sherman Leighton in the race to defend this Republican seat.

Rep. Cushing is currently the Majority Whip in the Maine State House, where he has served since 2008. He believes that government has become an obstacle to job creation and innovation in Maine and is running to implement better solutions in Augusta. As he puts it, “We need government to focus on that which it can and must do and not get into areas in which it does not need to be.”

Andre Cushing is a small business owner and real estate agent, in addition to serving as the Director of the Bangor Rotary, Vice Chair of the Hampden Business Association, and President of the EMMC Children’s Miracle Network Board.

Republicans must help Cushing defend this Senate Seat in District 33 to maintain — and then grow — the narrow 19-15 GOP majority in the Maine State Senate.

Support Andre Cushing.