Special election will draw big attention

5:49 PM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Next month, voters in Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden, in Lincoln County, will elect a new state Senator. The winner will replace former Senator Seth Goodall, who resigned to take a new job. And if you think a special election in August won't generate much interest - think again.This small election may have statewide significance.

In the world of Augusta politics, some are calling the special election a preview of the 2014 election year. Democrats had a four-vote majority in the senate, until Goodall resigned. They want to get that majority back and send a message to Governor LePage. Republicans say they want to cut down the Democrats' lead and show they can win back seats next year.

Leaders of the parties downplay the idea of the August vote being the start of 2014, but acknowledge that the parties will be working very hard on the race.

The candidates, however, are downplaying the statewide aspect of the contest. Paula Benoit, the lone Republican in the race, and Democrat Eloise Vitelli both say they aren't being influenced by the state party and are focusing all their attention on local voters. Vitelli is one of three Democrats seeking the nomination. Sagadahoc Democrats will caucus on Monday to select one of the three as the nominee.

Republicans will caucus next Tuesday, and are expected to nominate Benoit. The campaign will be short - just a month until the August 27 special election. Benoit and Vitelli say they plan to knock on lots of doors, and enlist the help of many friends and supporters to get their messages to the voters.

Party leaders say they will be using their own volunteers to help with the campaigns. Both parties also say this special election will be a good chance to energize volunteers and prepare for the big 2014 election year, which will elect a new Legislature and a Governor.

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