Democratic lawmakers from Portland and Biddeford were named majority leader and assistant majority leader of the Maine House of Representatives on Friday.

Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland will be House majority leader

Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland was elected House majority leader and Rep. Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford was elected assistant majority leader. They will work with the chamber’s highest-ranking member, Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, who retained her role as speaker of the House. The elections put two openly gay men and a woman – all from southern Maine – in the top positions leading the Democratic-controlled House.

“This leadership team is strong, dedicated and poised to make great progress for Maine,” Gideon said in a statement. “We pledge to increase access to affordable and quality health care, to alleviate the burden of crippling student debt and to finally make the investments that will build the high-paying, sustainable jobs of both today and tomorrow.”

Moonen, 34, is executive director of EqualityMaine, a political advocacy group working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He was the group’s political director and senior strategist for the 2009 marriage equality initiative and the subsequent effort to uphold the law from being overturned.

Moonen ran uncontested this year for a fourth term representing House District 38, which covers Portland’s West End. He is married to Jeremy Kennedy, who was recently named the chief of staff for Governor-elect Janet Mills after serving as her campaign director.

Before becoming Equality Maine’s executive director in 2015, Moonen served as the group’s political director from 2007 to 2010.

Moonen was first elected to the Maine House in 2012. During his most recent term, he served as House chairman on the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. In the last session, he championed a bill preventing the state from suspending driver’s licenses for non-traffic-related offenses.

“We have a strong and diverse caucus with a wide range of talent, experience and knowledge,” Moonen said in a statement. “The next two years represent an exciting opportunity to make real progress on the issues that make an impact on Maine people’s daily lives.”

Rep. Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford will be the assistant House majority leader.

Moonen will take over from Democrat Erin Herbig of Belfast, who was elected to the Maine Senate. And Fecteau will take over from Jared Golden, who was elected Thursday to the U.S. House of Representatives in the nation’s first ranked-choice vote, defeating Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

“House Democrats represent people all across Maine, from every walk of life, in parts of the state that are similar in some ways and very different in other ways,” Fecteau said in statement. “Our top priority is to make the future brighter for all of us, not just a few, and I know each and every one of my colleagues is as eager as I am to hit the ground running and address our most pressing issues.”

Democrats will hold an 89-57 majority in the House when they convene next month. Five of the 151 newly elected members are listed as independents.

House Republicans elected their minority leaders Thursday.

Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, is the incoming House minority leader, while Rep. Harold “Trey” Stewart III, R-Presque Isle, will serve as the assistant leader in the Republican caucus.

Dillingham is starting her third term representing House District 72, which includes the towns of Mechanic Falls, Otisfield and Oxford. She has served on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee during the past two sessions.

“I look forward to working with our colleagues across the aisle to pass public policy that continues to move our state in the right direction,” Dillingham said in a statement.

Stewart is starting his second term representing House District 147, which includes most of Presque Isle. Stewart is a graduate of the University of Maine, where he majored in political science and sociology and minored in business administration and legal studies. He earned his MBA from the University of Maine while serving as a member of the Legislature. At 24, he is the youngest member of the House Republican caucus.

Staff Writer Scott Thistle contributed to this story.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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Twitter: randybillings

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