Republican congressional candidate Dale Crafts of Lisbon talks with voters at Longley School in Lewiston last week. On Tuesday, he was declared the winner of the GOP primary race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUGUSTA — President Donald Trump didn’t wait for the secretary of state to announce the final results of last week’s Republican primary in Maine’s hardscrabble 2nd Congressional District.

The big winner, Dale Crafts, said Tuesday that the president called him a couple of days ago to congratulate him on the victory and tell him he was excited about the Lisbon businessman’s chances.

“He said he’d be behind me all the way,” Crafts said, and is “definitely going to come to the district” before Election Day because “he loves Maine.”

Crafts said he was glad to have the counting finished.

“It’s unfortunate we had to spend all that money,” he added, given that his two opponents had already conceded.

In the second round of a ranked-choice voting election, which officials counted Tuesday, Crafts got 59% compared to second-place finisher Adrienne Bennett’s 41%.

The second round of tabulation was needed because Crafts fell short of a majority in a three-way race that also included Eric Brakey, a former state senator from Auburn, who finished last on July 14. In round one, Crafts had 46%, Bennett 32% and Brakey 22%.

Brakey’s votes were redistributed so the second place picks of anyone who voted for him were added to the tallies for Bennett and Crafts.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said his office began assembling the ballots, and images of ballots from tabulators in bigger towns, last week. It completed the job on Monday, he said.

Julie Flynn, who heads the state’s Elections Division, talks about the results of the ranked-choice tally on a Facebook Live broadcast by the Maine Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday.

“Everything is ready to go,” Julie Flynn, who heads the Elections Division, said shortly before a computer began to figure out the final results using all the data compiled in recent days.

Crafts, a businessman and former state representative, will face U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a first-term Democrat from Lewiston, in the Nov. 3 general election. There are no other contenders in the race, setting up a rare one-on-one challenge in the sprawling district.

Golden’s seat is considered among the nation’s most vulnerable because President Donald Trump did so well there in 2016. The president is on the ballot again this year, facing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Golden begins the race with $2.1 million in his campaign coffers. Crafts has almost nothing. But both parties anticipate money pouring into the district from donors across the country, as well as Super PACs airing a steady stream of television and radio commercials.

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