Secretary of State Charlie Summers has won the Republican nomination in the Maine Senate race, beating out a crowded field to advance to a general election matchup with state Sen. Cynthia Dill, who took the Democratic nomination. With 76 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press has called the GOP race for Summers, who leads state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, 29 percent to 22 percent. Dill defeated her three Democratic opponents for the nomination, surpassing former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, 44 percent to 35 percent.
Sen. Olympia Snowe's surprise retirement announcement in late February sent candidates rushing to raise money and garner support, resulting in a crowded field on both sides. Six Republican and four Democratic candidates made a bid to succeed Snowe.
Summers and Dill enter the general election race as underdogs, with former Gov. Angus King, who is running as an Independent, favored to win in November. Summers was one of the better known candidates in the Republican field, owing to past congressional bids and his statewide post. Dill, meanwhile, was the only woman in the Democratic primary and has launched an aggressive campaign. Already, she has been joined Republicans in demanding that King reveal which party he will caucus with if elected.
King has so far stayed mum over which party he would side with, though observers of the race tend to believe he will side with the Democratic Party if elected to the Senate. Expect national Republicans to fan these suspicions. The NRSC remains hopeful Dill will carve into King's base, resulting in a Republican upset. A tepid response by national Democrats to Dill's win will only increase speculation the DSCC hopes King wins.