Republicans and Democrats in sprawling rural districts that include parts of Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Franklin counties will vie against each other to win their parties’ nominations to the state senate and  of representatives in Tuesday’s primary elections.

Douglas A. Thomas

In Senate District 4, which covers Piscataquis County and parts of Somerset and Penobscot counties, two candidates are running for the Republican nomination: incumbent Paul Davis of Sangerville and Douglas Thomas of Ripley.

Thomas once held the seat, but was defeated by Davis.

The Democratic nominee, David Ziemler of Orneville Township, is facing no opposition.

Thomas, 69, has been a selectmen, worked on his town’s school board and the county budget committee and served six years in the state House of Representatives and four in the Senate. He owns Doug Thomas Firewood with his son.

Former Gov. Paul LePage has endorsed Thomas for the seat, but worked with Davis when he was in office.

“I believe Maine is headed in the wrong direction,” Thomas said. “(Mills) has moved Maine further and further to the left and if someone doesn’t stand up soon, we won’t be the same state that we used to be.”

Thomas said that vocational education has lost support throughout the state and believes students need it as part of their education.

“I’m not going to hide under my desk,” Thomas said. “I will stand up and be counted. I am going to work to make this state a better place. Our kids and grandkids won’t inhereit anywhere near as good a place as we inherited and that’s not right. This is the most important election of my lifetime, and I really hope people do their homework and get out and vote.”

Thomas held the Senate seat and worked with LePage when he was first elected governor.

“I am proud of his endorsement,” Thomas said. “He did a good job as governor and endorsed me for a reason. I would do a great job and better than my competition. I am a Republican for a reason. (LePage) is well-respected among Republicans.”

Davis, the incumbent, has built up seniority and would be entering his last term if elected. He said he hopes to keep his seat to keep the Legislature from cutting education and from increasing the tax burden on Maine people.

Paul Davis Provided

Davis, a former Maine State Police officer, has worked on his town’s school board, served as a selectman, a state representative and a state senator.

“I have experience,” he said. “We are facing a tough time and I feel very well qualified to move ahead and do the best we can.”

“Maine is facing some serious challenges, and I feel that I am well-equipped to work in Augusta with other people and get along and help solve those challenges,” he said.

In District 112, which covers parts of Somerset and Franklin counties, Peter Bourgelais and Cynthia Soma-Hernandez are seeking the Democratic nomination.

The Republican incumbent, Thomas Skolfield of Weld, is unopposed.

Bourgelais, 33, of Phillips said he hopes to flip the now-Republican seat.

Peter Bourgelais Provided

He worked as a 3D artist and programmer at Peace Island LLC, a Portland-based computer games company. Currently, he is the chair of the Phillips Planning Board, where he said he has noticed a decline in the area.

“The district has been represented by Republicans and has had that general leaning for a long time and it’s not really working out,” he said.

He said he was motivated to run after taking a tour of tax-acquired properties. He said he got the sense that the town was dying. If elected, he hopes to advocate for policies that increase the state’s cost share of wider broadband access, to push for the creation of a consumer-owned utility and to close the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland.

“This area in rural Maine is dying,” he said, “and it will continue to die unless we do something.”

Bourgelais said his candidacy has been endorsed by Maine People’s Alliance.

Bourgelais opponent in the primary, Cynthia Soma-Hernandez, did not respond to the Morning Sentinel’s inquiries.

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