Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro was elected Saturday to a top-tier Maine Republican Party position despite concerns raised by a challenger that he would be too politically divisive.

Isgro was elected to the position of vice chairman of the state party, according to the group’s Twitter account. Demi Kouzounas was re-elected to the post of chairwoman.

“I’m ready to take the fight to the left,” Isgro said, according to a news release from Jason Savage, the state party’s executive director. “We can support good ideas and progress for the American people, but we must never give in to the destructive agenda of the radical left. I’m excited to join the team, and take this fight to every corner of the state.”

Isgro had been among three candidates vying for the vice chairman’s post. The other two were former state representative and House minority leader Ken Fredette, of Newport, and Bangor School Committee member and Penobscot County Treasurer John Hiatt.

Hiatt said in an interview earlier this week that he had been running against Isgro specifically because of the mayor’s controversial tweet last year in which he told the Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor and high school student David Hogg to “eat it.”

Kouzounas said she is “focused on winning in 2020,” according to the release. “We are at a turning point as a state and nation, I will fight for the Maine people every day,” Kouzounas said.


Also at Saturday’s meeting, state party Secretary Barbara Harvey and Treasurer Ben Lombard were both re-elected.

The election of party officers in Augusta comes as Republicans statewide are trying to figure out a path forward after the loss of the governor’s mansion and Maine Senate. Democrats also control the Maine House of Representatives.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage had urged Maine Republicans to maintain the same leadership at the Maine GOP. Meanwhile, some Republicans were calling for an overhaul.

Democrats boosted by out-of-state money won in November on strident promises of expanding access to health care amid rising medical costs and an opioid crisis.

GOP Vice Chairman Ryan Lorrain, who was not running for re-election, said Republican messages about financial stability under LePage failed to strike an emotional chord with voters.

Lorrain told the Morning Sentinel earlier this week that Isgro misled him in prior conversations about his interest in the future of the Maine Republican Party’s leadership.

“He had contacted me about a month ago and asked if I was going to be running (for vice chairman). At the time, I was planning on it, and he said he wasn’t going to,” said Lorrain. “Next thing I know — from other people — he was apparently running the entire time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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