Two Democratic incumbents in Kennebec County elected office edged out their Republican challengers after votes were counted Tuesday.

In unofficial results, Register of Deeds Beverly Bustin-Hatheway received 27,803 votes and challenger Kristin Clark got 26,825 in countywide voting, a difference of 978 votes.

In the 14 municipalities in County Commissioner District 2, Commissioner Nancy Rines received 10,151 votes, and challenger Joseph Pietroski Jr. got 9,852, a difference of 299 votes.

The results reflect the slight edge the Democrats have in the number of registered voters in Kennebec County.

As of the end of September, registered Democrats in Kennebec County outnumbered registered Republicans by about 3,000. The tallies provided by the Maine secretary of state show that as of Sept. 28, there were 29,831 Democrats and 26,803 Republicans.

Two factors make the outcome of countywide races less clear.

The largest single group of voters in the county have chosen to belong to no political party. Unenrolled voters numbered 32,048. In a general election, unenrolled voters can cast ballots for any candidate.

And in Maine, residents are allowed to register at the polls.

Bustin-Hatheway, 82, who has served four terms, said she has run unopposed in recent elections.

On Wednesday, Bustin-Hatheway said she was not surprised by the close result.

“The county has 29 towns, and you have only limited time to get out among them,” she said. “(Clark) is 22 and she can run a lot faster than I can.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Clark, 22, offered her congratulations to Bustin-Hatheway.

“I lost by 1 percent, which is not bad for a Republican in Kennebec County,” she said.

“I fought a hard battle and I enjoyed meeting many people,” Clark said, adding that she’ll look for a new way to serve Kennebec County in the future.

Bustin-Hatheway, a Hallowell resident, took Waterville and larger communities in southern Kennebec County including Augusta, Waterville, Hallowell, Gardiner, Farmingdale and Winthrop.

Clark, a Winslow resident, won there as well as in Belgrade, Benton, Monmouth, Oakland, Pittston, Sidney and Vassalboro.

Rines, 73, likewise has not faced opposition in recent terms, and that’s in part why Pietroski, 71, stepped up to run against her in District 2, which encompasses Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Mount Vernon, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Vienna, Wayne, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

The county commission oversees the functions of county government and the county budget.

Rines won in Gardiner, where she lives, as well as Hallowell, Farmingdale, Randolph, Vienna, West Gardiner and Pittston, where she beat Pietroski by a single vote.

Pietroski took Winthrop, where he lives, as well as Fayette, Litchfield, Monmouth, Mount Vernon, Readfield and Wayne.

Rines said Wednesday that she thought the margin would be narrower.

“The whole discussion of politics was much heightened this year,” Rines said.

“I look forward to doing the job,” she said. “I like it. I really like the job. That’s why I ran, so I’m glad I get to do it.”

Pietroski did not return a call for comment immediately Wednesday afternoon.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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