Pittston businessman William Guerrette (right) shakes hands with former state Sen. Earle McCormick of West Gardiner after being nominated as the Republican candidate for a Maine Senate seat in the Augusta suburbs on Sunday. He is likely to face former state Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, in a March 9 special election. Credit: Michael Shepherd / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Republicans nominated a Pittston businessman and former legislator as their candidate in a swing Maine Senate district in southern Kennebec County on Sunday over three other party hopefuls including a former seatholder.

William Guerrette, the 61-year-old owner of a coin shop and tanning salon in Augusta, will be the party’s candidate in a March 9 special election in a district based in Gardiner and Winthrop that was recently vacated by incoming Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat.

He was nominated at a caucus of 62 Republicans on Sunday outside the Augusta Civic Center, winning 28 votes to beat addiction counselor and runner-up Dean Martin of Gardiner, former Sen. Earle McCormick of West Gardiner and activist Jonathan Yellowbear of West Gardiner.

It sets up a race between Guerrette and Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop, who filed to raise money for the campaign this month ahead of his likely nomination at a Democratic caucus on Tuesday. He is running as a privately financed candidate while Guerrette is running under the state’s taxpayer-funded Clean Election system.

Hickman, a farmer, was the first Maine lawmaker to be Black and openly gay and left the Legislature this year after winning four terms in a closely divided district. He finished fourth in the six-way race won by Bellows to get the Democratic nomination for secretary of state. Guerrette served a term in the Maine House of Representatives from 1994 to 1996 and owns property in downtown Augusta.

The Republican and his family were the victims of a 2008 home invasion that was one of the most heinous crimes in the region’s recent history. A man attacked Guerrette and his 10-year-old daughter with a machete, nearly killing them. The attacker is serving 50 years in prison while his foster brother, who had previously stolen a safe from the home and played a role in the attack, is serving life.

Michael Shepherd

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...