Voters in Cumberland and part of Gray picked a new member of the House of Representatives in a special election on June 11, 2019, to succeed Rep. Dale Denno, a Democrat who died in April. Credit: Troy R. Bennett

AUGUSTA, Maine — Voters in Cumberland and part of Gray elected former Rep. Stephen Moriarty to the Maine House of Representatives on Tuesday, giving Democrats their third straight easy win in special elections for the chamber in 2019.

Moriarty, a retired lawyer from Cumberland who served one House term from 2012 to 2014, won the seat vacated in March by the late Rep. Dale Denno, D-Cumberland, with 61.6 percent of votes to 38.4 percent for Republican KC Hughes of Cumberland, according to unofficial results.

The election will mean little to the balance of power in Augusta, where Democrats control both legislative chambers and the Blaine House under Gov. Janet Mills. They will have an 89-56 advantage over Republicans once Moriarty is sworn in, which will likely happen this week.

Moriarty will report to the State House for the last week of the 2019 legislative session, which is set to end next Wednesday. He told The Forecaster in April that he supported economic development policies to “meet the changing needs of Maine employers.”

In the two other 2019 House elections, Democrats easily defended vacancies by electing Reps. Joe Perry of Bangor and Sean Paulhus of Bath. Perry replaced Attorney General Aaron Frey once he ascended to higher office, and Paulhus replaced Jennifer DeChant, who resigned.

The Cumberland seat has been a swing district. Denno narrowly lost it in 2014 to Republican Michael Timmons before beating him in 2016 and easily winning re-election last year despite a lung cancer diagnosis he disclosed during the race. He left the seat in March and died in April.

It’s an example of the kind of seat that contributed to the Democratic takeover of state government in the 2018 election in which Republicans suffered in suburban areas, highlighted by then-Assistant Senate Minority Leader Amy Volk’s loss to Sen. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham.

Democrats spent nearly $7,500 in outside money to elect Moriarty to Republicans’ $1,650 to boost Hughes. Hughes raised nearly $12,600 in a privately financed campaign as of May 28 and Moriarty spent more than $8,100 under the taxpayer-funded Clean Election program.

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Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...