Stepping up to lead

Election Roundup
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  November 14, 2012

Portland state senator Justin Alfond, 37, who lives on Munjoy Hill, was first elected to the state legislature in 2008, and spent the last session serving as assistant minority leader, was likely to become senate president when the Phoenix went to press on Tuesday evening. With no one opposing him for the position, the progressive, privileged lawmaker — who consistently earns top rankings from organizations like the AFL-CIO, the Maine People's Alliance, and the Maine Women's Lobby — was practically assured the leadership title.

The races for top positions on the House side were more contentious. Two Portland legislators — Diane Russell of Munjoy Hill and Mark Dion, who represents the neighborhood around outer Washington Avenue and Falmouth — were in the running for house speaker and majority leader, respectively.

The day before the internal election took place, Russell acknowledged that she was a dark horse for the speaker gig. "I'm not your normal politician," she said. "I take controversial positions." Indeed, in 2011, The Nation said "no one has caused LePage more frustration than . . . Russell."

Perhaps that's one reason the speaker post ultimately went to Mark Eves, a North Berwick Democrat.

SEEING RED IN PISCATAQUIS

Facts about Piscataquis County, home of Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin and the only county in Maine to go for Mitt Romney (with 50.8 percent, a four-point margin over Barack Obama):

• It is Maine's least-populous county (2011 estimated population was 17,419), with only 4.4 people per square mile (the Maine average is 43 people per square mile).

• This year, gay marriage failed there (63 to 37 percent). But independent Angus King for US Senate and US Representative Mike Michaud won their races.

• 16.2 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, compared to 12.6 percent statewide.

• In the 1992 presidential election, Ross Perot won a plurality in the county with almost 37 percent of the vote. In '96, Piscataquis went for Bill Clinton. Since then (and historically, pre-1990s), the county has been reliably Republican.

• Piscataquis is an Abenaki word for "branch of the river."

GREENS IN THE CITY

One narrative that could get lost in the post-election jubilee is how surprisingly well Greens fared here in Portland. Sure, none of the Green candidates running for state office actually won his race, but Seth Berner (House District 115), Tom MacMillan (House District 118), and Asher Platts (Senate District 8) all pulled in decent percentages, around 30 percent apiece. Also worth noting is the fact that Green presidential candidate Jill Stein's best showing was here in Maine, where she garnered a whopping 1.3 percent of the vote.

"I had no illusions that I was going to win," Platts says frankly, pointing out that he was running against a popular Democratic incumbent in a town full of registered Dems. "But coming away with 30 percent while running to the left of [assistant minority leader Justin Alfond] is pretty good. 5124 people felt they agreed with me more than with Justin." More than 5000, in other words, who agreed with the Green Party platform — one that had much in common with the Occupy movement.

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  Topics: This Just In , Munjoy Hill, Justin Alfond, Matt Moonen,  More more >
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