GARDINER — Party officials will meet Friday — just weeks before the election — to select a replacement for Republican House candidate Daniel Bates, who died late last month.
Bates, 61, running for the House District 59 seat, died of an apparent heart attack on Sept. 29.
The Maine Republican Party plans to pick a new candidate Friday night at a 6 p.m. caucus in Gardiner City Council Chambers, party spokesman David Sorensen said Wednesday.
Sorensen also took aim at the Democratic candidate in the race, Gay Grant, who began campaigning again after suspending activity in respect to Bates’ family. He said the Republican Party sees Grant as a Democrat with “very extreme liberal views,” which he said is a shift from the more moderate record of Rep. Stephen Hanley, a Democrat who often voted with Republicans but can’t seek re-election because of term limits.
Sorensen said the Republican’s replacement candidate, despite having a short campaigning window, still has a good chance of picking up the seat “especially considering the degree that the Democratic opponent is so liberal.”
Gay said Wednesday her views are consistent with moderate Democrats. She said it will be interesting to see what the Republicans can accomplish, since she has been campaigning door-to-door since April and has been well received among voters of all party affiliations.
“They really want someone who’s going to represent them and listen to them, and they haven’t been the least bit worried about where I stand on the ‘liberal views,’” Grant said.
A few people have expressed interest in running on the GOP ticket, Sorensen said, but he wouldn’t say who. Any registered Republican from the district, which includes Gardiner and Randolph, can vote or be nominated at the caucus.
Megan Sanborn, spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state’s office, said Monday is the deadline for Republicans to pick a replacement. The secretary of state doesn’t require parties to hold caucuses to nominate the replacement.
After the Republicans pick a candidate, the secretary of state’s office will reprint ballots with the new candidate and update its website, Sanborn said, though it’s too late to change absentee ballots.
Votes cast for Bates won’t count, she said.
Bates’ death shook people up in the community because it was so sudden, Grant said.
“Now I’ve got to move forward. This isn’t about Dan Bates or me,” she said. “It’s about the voters.”
Grant, who owns a writing consulting business, said the GOP’s nomination decision won’t affect her campaign, which she suspended for a week after Bates died.
“To me it was always about going out and listening to the voters, whether I have an opponent or not,” she said.
Sorensen said Bates’ death was unfortunate and “we are all still grieving that.”
He said Bates, an attorney, “would have been an incredibly strong candidate.”
Paul Koenig — 621-5663