One of Portland’s two state senators said on Tuesday she will not run for a third term in 2022 in a move likely to set off a crowded Democratic primary in the progressive district.
Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, a former lawyer who runs Rising Tide Brewery with her husband and has served six years in Augusta between the Senate and House, cited her family and the business in her decision to not run on Tuesday.
“I think it’s been really difficult for most Mainers, no matter how the pandemic has impacted them,” she said. “It’s impacted us in really profound ways.”
Her safe Democratic district, which covers outer Portland west of Forest Avenue along with part of Westbrook, is expected to attract a large slate of candidates. Portland politics has been defined in the past year by a rising progressive movement that won control of the city council and a charter commission in the past year over a more business-aligned Democratic wing.
Rep. Grayson Lookner, a Democrat who represents a part of Portland including the Deering Center, Rosemont and Stroudwater neighborhoods, confirmed on Tuesday he plans to run for the seat, while Rep. Michael Brennan, a former mayor and state senator from the Back Cove neighborhood, said it was premature to say whether he would consider running.
Lookner has led progressive charges to close the Long Creek Youth Development Center. He said Tuesday being in the Senate would help to counterbalance more moderate Democrats and push more progressive reforms through.
“We need a partner in the Senate to really make some good reforms happen,” he said.
Sanborn has been focused on health care and its affordability during her time in the Senate, bringing forward bills to improve access to telehealth and HIV medication. Her business was accused in a labor complaint of firing an employee at Rising Tide for efforts to unionize the company in 2020. The charge was later withdrawn, according to federal records.
BDN writer Jessica Piper contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated who sponsored a bill to restore tribal gaming rights to the tribes in Maine.