AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The first organizational steps for the newly elected Legislature were taken Friday as Republican senators-elect chose their floor leaders for the upcoming two-year session.
Sen. Michael Thibodeau of Winterport will be minority leader and Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta the assistant minority leader. There was no opposition to either candidate. As leaders, they will help direct their party’s agenda in the Senate.
Thibodeau has served two House terms and is beginning his second Senate term. Katz, who is beginning his second Senate term, served last session on the Appropriations Committee and co-chaired the Government Oversight Committee, whose probe of Maine Turnpike financial improprieties led to the former director’s resignation and theft conviction.
Katz said that during the leadership caucus, senators-elect discussed the session ahead, and they are all ‘‘committed to working with the new majority party and the governor. It was real positive today.’’
Republicans lost their Senate and House majorities in this week’s elections, although the final partisan breakdown is still clouded by the prospect of recounts of races in both chambers. As of Friday, the Senate breakdown was 19 Democrats, 15 Republicans and one independent.
The House breakdown appeared to be 87 Democrats, 60 Republicans and four independents. While 11 recounts were anticipated, their outcomes were not expected to negate a Democratic majority.
Besides electing their respective party’s floor leaders, the newly elected lawmakers must also nominate and elect a House speaker and Senate president, as well as treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor. The respective Republican incumbents, Bruce Poliquin, Charlie Summers and William Schneider, are expected to be replaced by Democrats.
The current state auditor, Democrat Neria Douglass, has completed her maximum eight consecutive years in the post and is running for state treasurer. She'll face former state representative Jeremy Fischer of Portland.
There will also be some postelection job changes outside the State House. Maine Republican Party Chairman Charles Webster has said he does not plan to seek re-election when a new leader is chosen Dec. 1.
State Rep. Richard Cebra of Naples, who was barred from seeking re-election by term limits, has been reported to be interested in the job. In an emailed response Friday, Cebra said he has not announced he is a candidate for that office.
David Jones of Falmouth, who’s on the board of the Defense of Liberty political action committee, said he’s ‘‘exploring the possibility’’ of running for state GOP chair.
‘‘We need someone who’s going to unite all of the factions of the party,’’ said Jones. He said many Republicans are upset with the way the state and national party conventions were conducted and with the outcome of Tuesday’s elections.