PORTLAND (AP) – Republican Susan Collins outpolled Tom Allen on Tuesday to win a third Senate term, even as ticket-splitters put Maine in Barack Obama’s column and both House seats remained in Democratic hands.

Collins took 60 percent of the vote to 40 percent for Allen, according to unofficial returns from 46 percent of the state’s precincts.

In the 1st District, Chellie Pingree defeated Republican Charlie Summers for the seat Allen vacated after six terms to run for the Senate. With 41 percent of the precincts reporting, Pingree had 56 percent of the vote.

Michael Michaud handily won a fourth-term in the 2nd District, taking 68 percent of the vote with 47 percent of precincts reporting.

Collins’ message of bipartisanship and independence trumped her opponent’s attempt to link her to President Bush’s policies on Iraq, the economy, health care and energy.

She mounted a strong showing throughout the state, carrying Democratic strongholds such as Lewiston and Biddeford while piling up lopsided margins in traditionally Republican precincts. Allen took Portland, the largest city in the state, where he launched his political career and served as mayor.

Collins said in an interview that while it was too early to determine whether the Democrats would have a filibuster-proof majority, she expected that Republicans could work together with the new administration.

“Senator Obama has stressed the need for a different approach in Washington with an emphasis on working across party lines, and I look forward to working with him and with new members as well as returning colleagues to lower the partisan rhetoric and sit down and solve problems,” she said.

In addressing his disappointed supporters, Allen expressed special thanks to his wife Diana, who took part in the campaign while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Ticket-splitters broke for Collins, who had been leading in the polls by double digits throughout the campaign, while giving Democrat Obama an overwhelming victory over Republican John McCain in a state that has been carried by the Democratic nominee in the last four presidential elections.

Exit polls indicated that about one-third of Obama voters cast ballots for Collins.

During the Senate campaign, Collins promoted her credentials as a pragmatic and independent-minded centrist whose ability to draw support from across the aisle has made her an effective legislator.

Allen sought to tie her to President Bush, asserting that she has been on the wrong side on major issues, but his campaign never seemed to gain traction.

The unprecedented campaign spending bankrolled a flood of television ads, which have been supplemented by spots financed by third-party groups.

The race was viewed as a test of whether moderate Republicans have a future in the Northeast, where Collins and fellow Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe are among the last survivors of the breed. Democrats were buoyed by the defeat two years ago of Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, which demonstrated that even a personally popular Republican was at risk in New England, and hoped for a similar outcome in Maine.

Pingree, a former legislator who ran against Collins six years ago and then went on to head the advocacy group Common Cause, outspent Summers by roughly 4-1.

She told her supporters that Obama’s victory and Democratic gains in Congress will enable the country to provide universal health care, end the war in Iraq, move toward energy independence and take up the cause of the middle class.

“We are going to do all these things because we are part of a change that a few years ago we never thought would happen,” said Pingree, the first Democratic woman elected to Congress from Maine.

Summers, who ran unsuccessfully against Allen in 2004, got a late start in his latest campaign. He was on active duty with the Navy in Iraq during much of the primary season while his wife filled in for him during campaign events.

Michaud, a former paper mill worker and state Senate president, served three terms in Congress, where he aligned himself with the conservative Blue Dog Democrats. Frary, a retired college professor and self-proclaimed contrarian, came across as a modern-day W.C Fields while making a point of not taking his campaign too seriously.

Michaud said his latest race was “definitely different” from the three earlier ones, lamenting that his opponent made personal jabs rather than focusing on the issues.


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