There are six Democrats who hope to replace termed-limited Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap when the next Legislature meets next month for the first time.
The secretary of state and other constitutional officers are picked by a joint caucus of both legislative chambers. Maine is among only three states (New Hampshire and Tennessee are the others) where the secretary of state is elected by the state Legislature. In Maine, this happens every two years. Since Democrats hold 103 of the Legislature’s 186 seats, their nominee is all but certain to win the position next month. The Republican minority caucus is able to select a candidate in these races, but none has been announced.
Maine’s other constitutional officers – Attorney General Aaron Frey and State Treasurer Henry Beck, both Democrats – are not expected to face challenges from within the Democratic majority caucus.
The election of constitutional officers usually happens the day the new Legislature is sworn in, which is expected to take place on December 2, 2020. The previous day, the majority and minority caucuses will meet to pick their nominees for the office. That is followed the next day by a secret ballot election to determine who will fill the position.
The secretary of state is the state’s chief elections officer, but also has several other important responsibilities, including managing the state’s archives and running the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Who are the candidates?
- Shenna Bellows of Manchester was just re-elected to a third term. She is the former executive director of the ACLU of Maine and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Susan Collins in 2014.
- Justin Chenette of Saco is completing his second consecutive Senate term but did not seek re-election this year. He previously served two consecutive terms in the Maine House.
- Matthew Moonen of Portland is the outgoing House majority leader and executive director of Equality Maine. Moonen is completing his fourth consecutive term.
- Craig Hickman of Winthrop, an organic farmer, is completing his fourth consecutive term.
- Erik Jorgensen of Portland is serving his fourth consecutive term and is a member of the Legislature’s budget-writing Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
- Former state Rep. Thomas Bull of Freeport currently works for as a facilities and procurement specialist in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles