Party and outside groups have already poured more than $100,000 into a special Maine Senate election in Hancock County, even though the winner may not cast a single vote.
Former Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, and Rep. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, are facing off in the special election for Senate District 7 on June 14. The seat has been vacant since former Sen. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, resigned in January to take a position with the Small Business Administration.
Grohoski and Langley will also face each other again in the November general election that will fall under slightly different boundaries due to redistricting. Both are running unopposed in their parties’ respective primary elections, which will also be held on June 14.
With a month until Election Day, the Maine Democratic Party has spent more than $65,000 to boost Grohoski, according to campaign finance filings, with Planned Parenthood’s campaign arm chipping in another $5,000 for the Democrat. Republicans have put forward more than $30,000 to boost Langley.
The spending from both parties has encompassed digital ads and mailers, as well as texting. Early investments could boost the candidates ahead of the June special election and provide some momentum for the November general. Democratic groups looking to influence legislative races have sharply outraised Republican counterparts so far this cycle.
Senate District 7, which spans roughly two dozen municipalities in Hancock County, includes both liberal coastal towns such as Bar Harbor and Stonington, as well as more conservative municipalities including Ellsworth and Hancock.
The winner of the June election will be sworn in as senator, but there may be no opportunities for lawmaking, as the Legislature adjourned earlier this month with no clear plans to return before the end of the year after a new crop of lawmakers is seated.
Either Grohoski or Langley, however, will have the opportunity to run as the incumbent in the November election. The district will undergo slight changes due to redistricting, losing some towns in eastern Hancock County and adding towns on the western edge of the Blue Hill peninsula. It will still be anchored by Ellsworth and include all of Mount Desert Island.
Langley, a restaurateur and former technical school teacher, previously represented the seat from 2010 through 2018, when he could not run again due to term limits. He ran again in 2020, but lost to Luchini. Grohoski, a cartographer, is in her second term in the Maine House, representing Ellsworth and Trenton.