Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, watches the vote tally as a member of the House of Representatives at the State House in Augusta on Aug. 26, 2019. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Republicans in the Maine Senate picked new leaders on Thursday after a disappointing election for the party, tapping Trey Stewart of Presque Isle as minority leader and Lisa Keim of Dixfield as his No. 2.

The move came after Democrats held their 22-13 majority in the upper chamber following Tuesday’s election, with the parties flipping one seat each. The biggest race was in upper Aroostook County, where Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, kept his seat after a challenge from Rep. Sue Bernard, R-Caribou, that drew more than $1 million in total spending.

ELECTION RESULTS

Any relationship between Jackson and Stewart will be frosty. The Republican called the Democrat “corrupt” in a Bangor Daily News interview, citing his work for labor groups. It prompted a strong reaction from Jackson allies in the middle of a raw campaign that ended in him being the only Democrat left representing any part of Aroostook in the Legislature.

Stewart, 28, recently graduated from the University of Maine law school and is seen as an ambitious riser in Republican politics. He enters his second term in the Senate after two House terms. He briefly mounted a campaign for the 2nd Congressional District in 2021, but he exited the race after former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin declared his run.

Keim is in her fourth and final term after flipping an ancestrally Democratic seat based in northern Oxford County during the 2016 election. She has been a critic of Maine’s legal defense system for indigent people and has chaired the panel overseeing the court system.

The leadership race on the Republican side was uncontested. Outgoing Minority Leader Jeff Timberlake of Turner and his No. 2, Matt Pouliot of Augusta, were reelected on Tuesday but declined to stand for leadership again. Senate Democrats pick leaders on Thursday evening.

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...