EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Rick’s Market co-owner Steve Waceken said he was sad that Mike Michaud suffered his first campaign loss. But he wasn’t terribly surprised.

“You feel bad for the guy,” the 46-year-old Waceken said Wednesday. “If you’re Mike, now what do you do? Do you go back to Washington as a lobbyist? What’s next? You gotta feel bad for the guy.”

Michaud was defeated Tuesday in his attempt to become Maine’s governor by incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage. With 95 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday, LePage had garnered 48 percent of the vote to 43 for Michaud. Independent Eliot Cutler got just over 8 percent.

Waceken and several residents interviewed Tuesday and Wednesday in Michaud’s hometown of East Millinocket said they liked and respected the five-term congressman, but LePage’s bluntness was irresistible in comparison to Michaud’s more reserved approach.

“To tell you the truth, I kind of expected [Michaud’s loss],” said Jim Harris, a 67-year-old professional surveyor from Burlington who had stopped in East Millinocket for lunch on his way to a job in Millinocket. “I expected Eliot Cutler to make a difference with Michaud rather than LePage.”

Cutler siphoned votes from Michaud, outperformed him in their debates and offered fresher ideas, several residents said. Michaud, they said, also suffered fallout from the shutdown of the town’s largest single employer, the Great Northern Paper Co. paper mill, earlier this year.

“Everybody likes Mike,” said one resident, who asked not to be identified, “but what’s he done for this area, really? Especially when the mill went down. Where was he?”

Attempts to contact Michaud in Portland and at his home in East Millinocket were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

LePage was tempting even to Michaud stalwarts. Resident Amy Stewart, 30, said she voted for Michaud but that the Republican governor’s promotion of drug screening of welfare recipients almost got her vote.

“I think that LePage had fairly strong support where Michaud’s support fluctuated a bit,” said 59-year-old Terry Smyth of Medway. “I think the people who backed LePage did so because he did a lot of what he said he was going to do. He said he was going to go after welfare fraud, and he did.

“One of his strongest messages was against welfare abuse,” Smyth said.

Meanwhile, Michaud’s message’s was lost, Waceken said.

“If he had one, he didn’t portray it,” Waceken said.

Harris speculated that Michaud might have been overshadowed by the barrage of Democratic Party television advertisements touting losing 2 nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain and U.S. Senatorial candidate Shenna Bellows, who also lost.

LePage ran fairly strong in East Millinocket in a losing effort, garnering 307 votes to Michaud’s 513, or 35 percent of the vote. Michaud’s votes represent about 60 percent of the town’s electorate. Cutler drew 37 votes in East Millinocket, Town Clerk Erica Ingalls said. Ten gubernatorial ballots were blank.

In his easy 2012 congressional win against challenger Kevin Raye, Michaud had 112,590 votes statewide, or 58 percent, compared with Raye’s 80,808 votes, or 42 percent.

East Millinocket’s turnout this Election Day was strong for a nonpresidential election, with 863 of the town’s 1,332 registered voters, or 64 percent, having voted, Ingalls said.

Several residents polled informally after voting said they expected that Michaud, a former Great Northern Paper Co. millworker, would draw at least 80 percent of the gubernatorial vote in his hometown. They described Michaud as known for his low-key personality and long memory for names and faces. Many said they had known him for decades.

“I think this town is a huge Michaud supporter,” said Heather Chasse Doxsey, 40, who has known Michaud almost all of her life thanks to her parents. “To us, he’s just a regular guy who worked at the mill.”