AUGUSTA — Despite suffering a crushing defeat in November, the Maine Republican Party’s leadership team is seeking to remain in place for another two years.

But at least two GOP lawmakers, former Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls and former state Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough, are eyeing the possibility of taking the party’s helm.

The four Republican leaders in the Legislature, all now in the minority, urged the GOP’s state committee to turn to Mason to lead the party for the next two years, with former House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport as his second in command.

The four said the Democrats’ wins at the polls in November — taking control of the Blaine House, the Senate, the House and both of Maine’s congressional seats — “represent a lack of cooperation and coordination that has existed between party headquarters and legislative leadership for far too long.”

In a letter to Republican leaders, they said Mason and Fredette can help counter the Democrats.

Whether the challengers have enough support to emerge on top is an open question.

Demi Kouzounas of Saco, who has led the party for the past two years, is seeking re-election.

She recently hailed the “epic American turnaround” she insisted Maine made during the eight years that Republican Paul LePage was governor.

LePage strongly endorsed Kouzounas in a letter to Republican leaders, insisting the party needs “to tweak and make changes” but there’s no reason “to throw the baby out with the bathwater” by siding with legislative veterans with whom LePage often clashed.

“We need to be willing to take the fight on, and not simply point fingers,” LePage said. “Starting over is not necessary.”

Kouzounas said Democratic Gov. Janet Mills will soon face a difficult path forward because many groups that helped elect her “will soon be demanding destructive economic policy and government handouts and favors.”

The four legislative leaders — Senate Minority Leader Dana Dow of Waldoboro, Senate Assistant Minority Leader Jeff Timberlake of Turner, House Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford and Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart of Presque Isle — said Republicans “have an uphill battle over the next two years to try and mitigate the far-left pieces of legislation that are sure to come forth.”

They said that picking Mason and Fredette would give them the best chance of holding Democrats in check. Both men fell short in gubernatorial bids last year when primary voters opted for Shawn Moody as their standard-bearer for the state’s top job.

Both Republicans and Democrats are picking their leadership teams at meetings this weekend.

The Democrats will choose either Kathleen Marra of Kittery or Melissa Sterry of Augusta to succeed Phil Bartlett, who is stepping down after guiding the party since 2014. Mills has endorsed Marra.

The Democrats’ choices for other party positions are listed on the party’s website. Two Lewiston Democrats, Owen Cardwell-Copenhefer and Safiya Khalid, both recent college graduates, are among the 10 seeking one of five slots on the party’s executive committee.

Former state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year, said he considered running for the state party chairmanship but decided he wasn’t the right fit for the job because he’s not inclined to be partisan.

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Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas of Saco. (Photo provided)

Former state Sen. Garrett Mason (File photo)

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