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Maine race continues as residents await primary winners

June 16, 2018 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine businessman Shawn Moody is getting a head start on campaigning as the Republican nominee in the November election as Democrats await their primary winner under ranked-choice voting.

The state’s top election officials said they may release unofficial election results sometime next week.

Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills had the most first-place votes. But additional tabulations are needed because no candidate received a majority of votes.

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Preliminary voting results showed Moody won handily in counties all across the rural state. Moody throughout the primary season cast himself as an “outsider businessman” in the style of President Donald Trump and Gov. Paul LePage.

As a high school senior, Moody founded an auto collision repair business now with 11 locations, and he registered last fall as a Republican after running against LePage as an independent in 2010. Moody told reporters this week that while he admires Trump and LePage’s business acumen, he doesn’t think voters will compare him to Trump.

“I think I’m coming in with a fresh set of eyes,” said Moody.

The Maine GOP has begun to rally supporters behind Moody in a state where conservatives have enjoyed political gains in the last decade.

“Maine is so lucky to have a candidate with both business and blue collar backgrounds who will be able to grow wages and our overall Maine economy, providing opportunity for all of us to be better off,” Maine Republican Party Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas said.

Shawn Moody was the top privately financed fundraiser among Republicans, with about $730,000 in reported contributions that includes $378,000 from his own wallet. Moody’s campaign is set to disclose his next round of contributions by July 24, under state campaign finance law.

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also praised Moody as a “common-sense, job-creating entrepreneur.” Haslam is chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association, which is on the defense this year as Republicans nationwide defend 26 governorships.

Meanwhile, Maine Democrats are trying to claim the momentum is on their side after a primary season marked by candidates sparring over outside spending and gun policy.

Democrats are pointing to early results indicating over 30,000 more Democrats than Republicans turned out Tuesday. The Democratic Governor’s Association is spending $20 million this year to elect governors in eight states including Maine where governors play a key role in redistricting.

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“After nearly eight years of Gov. LePage’s divisive leadership and failed policies, Maine Democrats turned out in massive numbers to show that they are tired with the same failed leadership, and that they’re ready for a new, better direction,” said Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party.

Memory sticks containing election tallies and boxes of hand-counted ballots were delivered this week to a secure location in Augusta.

Ranked-choice voting works like this: Voters rank candidates from first to last on their ballots. A candidate who collects a majority of the vote wins. If there is no majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and votes reallocated. The process is repeated until there is a majority winner.