AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine Democrats on Wednesday reclaimed legislative majorities they lost to Republicans two years ago, presenting a new political dynamic in dealing with GOP Gov. Paul LePage.
Unofficial tallies show Democratic candidates won 18 seats to the Republicans’ 16 in the Senate, where one independent also was elected. Democrats also counted an 87-60 majority in the House, with four unenrolled seats. The results are incomplete and subject to change with recounts.
The new numbers would represent a shift from the 19-15-1 edge the GOP has had in the Senate for the last two years, and the 77-70 Republican majority in the House, where there also are two unenrolled members and two vacancies.
‘‘This election was about working Mainers standing up for themselves and saying enough. We heard them, we've got their back, and we’re ready to work,’’ Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said.
Republican senators who appeared to be ousted include Lois Snowe-Mello of Poland and Sen. Christopher Rector of Thomaston. Snowe-Mello lost to former Democratic senator John Cleveland of Auburn, according to unofficial results. Rector lost to Democrat Edward Mazurek of Rockland. Mazurek has reached the state’s maximum four House terms.
In House races, Democratic Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake appeared to be ousted by Republican Allen Nadeau of Fort Kent. Martin was first elected in 1964 and has served 23 legislative terms including an unprecedented 10 terms as House speaker.
LePage, who was elected in 2010 with tea party support and has advanced rollbacks in social programs and tax cuts opposed by Democrats, offered a conciliatory statement saying, ‘‘I would like to congratulate all candidates who won. Now that the campaign is over, it is time to get to work for all Maine people.’’
His spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said working with Democrats ‘‘is nothing new for the governor,’’ who did so as Waterville mayor before he was elected governor.
‘‘He’s willing to work with anyone and everyone willing to work with him, and that includes Democrats,’’ Bennett said.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Charles Webster acknowledged he was disappointed by the election results, but found cause for encouragement.
‘‘Republican legislative candidates posted upsets to incumbents in several historically Democratic-leaning seats and successfully defended themselves in some of the most targeted races in the state,’’ Webster said in a statement.
Meanwhile, major public worker unions hailed the return of legislative control to the Democrats, who had held the reins for more than three decades before the Republicans’ stunning 2010 takeover.
‘‘Based on the unofficial election results, it also appears that Mainers elected a majority of leaders to both the Maine House and the Maine Senate whose priorities are workers, retired workers and families — not insurance companies, corporate lobbyists and millionaires,’’ said Ginette Rivard, president of the Maine State Employees Association, which represents thousands of state workers.
Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the Maine Education Association, said the Democratic gains are ‘‘not a win for any single political party, but for educators and middle class Mainers whose voices have fallen on deaf ears in Augusta. The results of this election give us our voice back.’’