LEWISTON — The choice for Lewiston’s next mayor will be about challenger Ben Chin and incumbent Robert Macdonald.

The two candidates left behind their three challengers at the polls Tuesday, setting the stage for a Dec. 8 runoff vote.

Chin received the most votes of any candidate, 3,673 of the 8,332 cast in the mayoral race, and the highest percentage, at 44.

Macdonald got 3,107 votes and 37 percent of the total.

Former City Council President Steve Morgan was a distant third with 1,276 votes and 15 percent of the total. Luke Jensen and Charles Soule rounded out the race with 204 and 72 votes, respectively, according to unofficial numbers.

Macdonald said Tuesday that he was confident of his chances but philosophical all along.


“If it’s a runoff, that’s fine,” he said. “I never really expected to be in here after January, anyway. When I got in here, there was a four-year term limit.”

Macdonald said his campaign was boosted by Lewiston’s seniors, veterans and teachers. Macdonald worked as an aide at Lewiston Middle School before running for mayor.

“But the elderly, the retired, the Somalis, I think they came out in support of me,” he said. “I bet I got a lot of support from the city workers, too. I support them because they do a good job and we don’t pay them enough.”

The city charter spells out the rules for electing mayors in Lewiston. To win, one of the five candidates must get a bona fide majority of the vote — 50 percent, plus one vote. City councilors and School Committee members need only get the most votes to win. 

If no mayoral candidate wins a majority of votes, the two with the highest numbers advance to a special runoff election. Assistant City Clerk Kelly Brooks said city councilors have scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to formally schedule that vote.

Chin goes into the runoff well-stocked for the coming contest. According to the Oct. 23 campaign finance report, Chin had spent $37,380 of the $63,329 his campaign raised. That left almost $26,000 for the run-up to the election — and the campaign continued looking for more, pitching for donations on Election Day to pay for telephone calls to voters. 


“We tried not to spend all of our money in one place,” Chin said Tuesday. “With this baby (about to be born), I’d like to be able to spend some time in the house. But we wanted to be sure we could run a solid runoff campaign without doing any new fundraising.”

Chin said he expects most of his efforts in a two-way campaign will go toward more door-to-door canvassing, Facebook ads, surveys and the like.

“Online, people can click something and give information back to you and that’s really valuable,” he said. “It has educational value for us; we learn a lot. But it’s strategic. If you just blast your message out there, you don’t get a sense of what people are feeling.”

As Chin was celebrating with supporters at She Doesn’t Like Guthries on Middle Street on Tuesday night, he said Lewiston’s emerging immigrant population was the untold story of the election. 

“If there’s a particular demographic that deserves a shoutout tonight, it’s got to be the new citizens,” Chin said. He said many who came as children 12 years ago were now citizens and voters and they were making their voices heard.

“If you are going to use hate-mongering tactics to divide people and try to win elections, you are going to have to deal with the fact that some of the people you are scapegoating are going to show up on Election Day and vote against you,” Chin said.


He said the campaign between him and Macdonald at a personal level had remained civil and he offered his thanks to Macdonald.  

“Mayor Macdonald and I have big differences on all of the big issues, but I think we are able to disagree with each other without being disagreeable,” Chin said, noting that he was honored to be the candidate who would carry on the debate in Lewiston for what he described as “the very heart of the city and quite possibly the heart of our state.”

In exit polling, Jennifer Zabko of Sabattus Street said Chin’s views on immigrants convinced her.

“He tends to be more open and his views line up with mine,” she said.

Bates juniors Nicole Ramirez and Cary Lee, both 20, said they both cast their ballots for Chin.

“He’s helping out the Somali population and low-income families,” Ramirez said.


Lori Moulton of Goff Avenue said she felt more comfortable voting for Morgan.

“I know him, I know what he stands for and I like what he stands for,” she said.

Ronella Paradis of Prospect Street agreed.

“He’s going for economic development and I agree with that,” she said. “And Chin is just too liberal. I can’t vote for him.”


Sun Journal State Politics Editor Scott Thistle contributed to this report.

2015 Election Coverage

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