AUGUSTA — Democrats in the Maine House of Representatives put Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon on track for the chamber’s top spot on Friday, nominating her to succeed House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick.

Gideon, 44, was the odds-on favorite for the speaker’s chair after Democrats held their majority in the chamber in the November election. Republicans picked up three seats, cutting that majority to 77-72, with independents and barring one recount to be completed on Friday.

A formal vote to name the new speaker will come among the entire House on Dec. 7, the day that the next Legislature will be sworn in. Republicans can contest it, but they would be virtually certain to lose.

Democrats also named Rep. Erin Herbig of Belfast as House majority leader, replacing the outgoing Rep. Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, with Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston replacing Gideon as assistant leader.

The election on Nov. 8 was mixed for Democrats: President-elect Donald Trump stormed to an upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton aided by a win in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, which split with the rest of the state for the first time in history and Republicans held a one-member majority in the Senate.

Gideon, who is entering her third term in Augusta, was central to key policy fights in the last session, including as the champion of a solar policy bill that died after a veto from Gov. Paul LePage and her political action committee spent nearly $78,000 to elect Democrats this year.


In a secret ballot vote for the party’s nomination, Gideon beat Rep. Gay Grant of Gardiner, a member of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, and Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop, a farmer who has made food insecurity one of his top issues in Augusta.

Herbig, who co-chairs the Legislature’s labor committee, beat Rep. Walter Kumiega of Deer Isle, the co-chair of the marine resources committee, while Golden, a veteran of the Marine Corps who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was unopposed for his leadership post.

That sets the leadership slate for the session starting in January 2017. Republicans re-elected Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and his leadership team last week, with House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Winterport also returning for Republicans.

Troy Jackson of Allagash will be Democrats’ minority leader in the Senate and Nate Libby of Lewiston will assist him.

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