Nobody in the history of Maine has logged more years as state Senate president than Charles Pray of Millinocket.

For four terms, from 1984 until 1992, the Democrat led the state Senate, the capstone of a legislative career in Augusta that began when the Vietnam War veteran won the seat in 1974, a year after he graduated from the University of Maine with a political science degree.

Charles Pray, as he appears on his campaign website.

This year, Pray, 75, is seeking to return to the Legislature for the first time in nearly three decades. He’s running for a state House seat representing Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, Patten and some unorganized territories in northern Penobscot County.

“I know how state government works, so I know how to make our voices heard in Augusta,” Pray said on his campaign website.

Pray is running for an open seat in the 143rd District against Republican Peggy Stanley. Neither could be reached for comment Monday.

After his defeat at the polls in 1992, Pray took a job as a senior advisor in the Department of Energy, dealing with a wide range of issues.


“I quickly found out the job of anybody like that is you get to tell everybody no,” Pray told Paul Mills, who wrote about the legendary legislator last winter.

After his time with the Clinton administration, Pray worked as a consultant and a nuclear safety advisor to the state of Maine.

When Barack Obama became president, Pray returned to Washington as the director of congressional affairs for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency with the Department of Energy.

He returned to Maine in 2012 and has held a variety of posts, including the executive director of the Maine County Commissioners Association. He was involved in discussions about the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Since 2015, he has served as an elected town council member in Millinocket

From 1970 until 2008, Pray worked at, then operated and finally owned, Pray’s Cottages & General Store near the Ripogenus Dam along with his wife, Nancy Deschaine Pray, who died seven years ago.

Charles Pray’s campaign logo

The only other lawmaker to serve four terms as state Senate president, Republican Joseph Sewall of Old Town, died in 2011. He was the Senate’s president from the time Pray first took office until 1982. Democrat Gerard Conley of Portland served a single term between Sewall and Pray.

Since Pray’s loss, there have been a dozen state Senate presidents. Three of them served a second term. None served more.

Unless term limits are someday repealed, nobody will ever serve longer than Pray and Sewall as Senate president.

In Maine, the Senate president is in line to succeed the governor if the state’s top executive is unable to continue in the job because of death, illness, resignation or ouster.

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