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2 Maine US House races feature primaries

SHARE 2 Maine US House races feature primaries

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters on Tuesday were deciding which Republicans will challenge the two Democrats who occupy Maine's U.S. House seats in November's election.

In what was expected to be a light voter turnout, Jonathan Courtney of Springvale, a business owner who's finishing a term as Maine Senate majority leader, faced Patrick Calder, a merchant mariner from Portland, in the 1st Congressional District GOP primary.

The winner will face U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, who's completing her second term in Congress and was unopposed in Tuesday's primary.

In the 2nd District, Kevin Raye of Perry, the Maine Senate president and a familiar figure in the state's political scene, faced a primary challenge from 30-year Navy veteran Blaine Richardson of Belfast.

A Raye victory would set the stage for 2nd District rematch between him and the incumbent, Rep. Mike Michaud, who narrowly won in 2002 and has held the House seat since. Like Pingree, Michaud was unopposed Tuesday.

Wins for Raye and Courtney would come as little surprise since the two are well-established in the GOP and have outspent their lesser-known rivals.

Courtney went to work right after high school and now is an owner of a dry-cleaning business in Kennebunk. He's served one term in the Maine House and four in the Senate. Calder came into the race with no political experience.

Raye has cast himself as a leader who can deal successfully with both political parties.

In addition to his eight years in the State House, Raye comes with 17 years' experience as a top aide to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, which gave him contact with voters all over the state and established contacts with Washington.

Richardson, who counted on support from the conservative political movement, had relatively little public exposure entering the race. He's served three decades in active Navy duty and as a reservist and runs a small construction business.

Michaud, who had a two-decade legislative career, is seeking his sixth consecutive U.S. House term. While in Congress, he's emphasized his support for veterans' issues and opposed trade policies he believes hurt traditional Maine industries.

Asked if the political shift to the right in Maine will hurt Michaud's chances in November, campaign spokesman Greg Olson said political swings are less important than contact with voters.

"We take every election seriously. I think Mike more than most comes home every weekend and every recess to make sure he has a pulse on the district," said Olson.