The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — A June special election in a competitive Maine House of Representatives district along the coast could be between two former lawmakers.

Former Reps. Abden Simmons, R-Waldoboro, and Wendy Pieh, D-Bremen, have launched their campaigns, party officials said Wednesday. They will seek the seat vacated last month by former Rep. Clinton Collamore, D-Waldoboro, who resigned after pleading not guilty to forgery charges relating to Maine’s publicly funded campaign program.

That matchup would set up a high-profile 2023 race in a swing district. Republicans had an edge of nearly 4 percentage points over Democrats in voter registration there in November 2022, but the Democrats who control Augusta have swept them in legislative special elections since 2017.

Simmons first won his local House seat in 2016, then he lost it to progressive former Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship. Last year, the clammer, elver fisherman and selectman was the Republican nominee for the Maine Senate district based in Lincoln County, but he lost to Democrat Cameron Reny of Bristol.

Pieh, a farmer and selectman since 2004, served in the Legislature from 1996 to 2000 and then from 2006 to 2008, twice co-chairing the agriculture committee. She ran a return bid in 2020 but lost in the Democratic primary to Rep. Lydia Crafts, D-Newcastle. Her home district shifted in a round of redistricting that took effect before the 2022 election.

Gov. Janet Mills declared the June 13 special election on Wednesday. The winner of the seat will serve the remainder of Collamore’s term in Augusta through the 2024 election.

To clinch the party nominations, Simmons and Pieh must be confirmed in a local party caucus before March 31. Non-party candidates can qualify for the ballot by getting signatures from 50 registered voters in the district by the same deadline.

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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...