After a ranked-choice count, Newcastle social worker Lydia Crafts has won the three-way Democratic primary race in Maine House District 90 with 60.15% of the vote.
The ranked-choice count took place in Augusta on Tuesday, July 21 to determine the final outcome.
Ranked-choice counts also took place for the Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District and four other legislative primaries, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office.
According to an unofficial tally from the Secretary of State’s Office before the count, Crafts had 1,006 votes, while Bremen farmer Wendy Pieh had 736 and Newcastle attorney David Levesque had 272. This gave Crafts 49.95% of the vote, leading to the ranked-choice count since she did not have more than 50% of the total vote.
After the ballots were tabulated and verified in Augusta on Tuesday, July 21 as part of round one of the ranked-choice process, Crafts had 920 votes, while Pieh had 611 and Levesque had 252.
Kristen Schulze Muszynski, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the first round of the count begins with all ballots being double-checked and verified, leading to some ballots being thrown out if they are not valid.
“Those are rough, unofficial numbers,” Muszynski said of the original numbers, adding that there are several reasons for the discrepancies.
Muszynski gave the example of a ballot that had the same candidate selected for more than one choice as one that would not be counted during the ranked-choice process, as this is not allowed. For example, if a voter selected Crafts as both their first and second choices, their ballot would be invalid.
If voters choose only one candidate, the ballot remains valid.
Also, she said that if a ballot has no first choice marked, it would have been counted as blank at the polls. However, during the ranked-choice process, the second choice, if marked, is counted as the voter’s first choice.
Although the verification process gave Crafts more than 50% of the vote, the ranked-choice count has to be continued until only two candidates remain, Muszynski said.
Therefore, Levesque was eliminated and the second choices on ballots that ranked Levesque as a first choice were tallied. This added 129 votes to Crafts’ tally and 84 to Pieh’s total.
The preliminary results for round two of the ranked-choice count show Crafts with 1,049 votes, or 60.15%, and Pieh with 695 votes, or 39.85%, ending the contest.
Muszynski said official results will not be released until 20 days after the election, once Gov. Janet Mills signs off on them.
House District 90 includes Bremen, Bristol, Damariscotta, Monhegan, Newcastle, part of Nobleboro, and part of South Bristol.
In an email statement, Crafts thanked her opponents for respectful campaigns and called the contest “a model of political discourse centered on ideas and issues rather than people and personalities.”
“My campaign will continue to prioritize policy and decision making that focuses on the needs of our entire district to strengthen our economy, public education, and environment. I believe in leadership that listens, engages in thoughtful discussion, and considers the impact of legislation on our most vulnerable friends and neighbors,” Crafts said.
Pieh and Levesque, in email responses to a request for comment before the ranked-choice count, congratulated Crafts on her apparent selection as the party’s nominee.
“Lydia Crafts ran an incredible race, and impressed all of us with her commitment, ability, and willingness to work hard to get the job done,” said Pieh, a former four-term state representative. “She will be the State Representative for District 90, and I will be very proud to have her represent me.”
“I am sure she will put the same effort into winning the general election in November as she did for the primary,” Levesque said. “Thank you to both Lydia and Wendy for running vigorous campaigns while guided by civility. Also, I thank all of those who voted for me. I appreciate your support.”