After six years in the Legislature without a primary opponent, a Waterville Democrat is facing a challenge from within his own party this year after voting against bills advancing abortion and reproductive rights.

Rep. Bruce White, who is seeking a fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives, is being challenged by Cassie Julia, who serves on the city’s planning board and is backed by abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood.

Bruce White Contributed photo

Julia said it was her teenage daughter, who will turn 18 in time to vote in this year’s elections, who brought White’s voting record to her attention and encouraged her to enter the race.

“She’s very politically minded and she was lamenting one day that she was going to have to vote for somebody that did not respect or believe she has autonomy over her own body,” said Julia, who is 45. “I was moved by that and agreed with her it was very unfair.”

White, 66, said he was devoting time to his campaign and was not available for an interview. But he wrote in an email that he doesn’t think his votes on abortion disqualify him from being his party’s candidate once again. The Democratic party “is supposed to be the party with the big tent, accepting of different views,” he wrote.

The primary contest is an example of how abortion remains an electoral issue in Maine and nationwide two years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization upended the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, ending federal protection for abortion access.


Many Democrats nationally have seized the moment as an opportunity to champion abortion rights heading into the 2024 elections.

The winner of the June 11 primary in House District 65, which includes part of the city of Waterville, will face Republican Tammy Brown in the general election.

Maine lawmakers this year considered a resolution to hold a statewide referendum and ask voters to add a “right to reproductive autonomy,” including the right to abortion, to the state constitution.

Cassie Julia Contributed photo

White was the only Democrat who voted against L.D. 780 in each of two House roll-call votes on the bill, which failed to secure the two-thirds support needed to send it to referendum. Rep. Michael Lajoie, of Lewiston, who is not seeking reelection, initially voted against the bill, but then voted for it in the final House vote.

White and Lajoie were also the only Democrats who opposed L.D. 227, a bill that Gov. Janet Mills signed into law to protect providers of abortion and gender-affirming care from hostile, out-of-state litigation.

Planned Parenthood gave White an 11% approval rating in 2023 based on his votes on reproductive rights issues that year, including a vote against L.D. 1619, which expanded the ability to have an abortion later in pregnancy.



White defended his votes in the email response.

“We have differing views within the Democratic caucus on issues such as gun safety legislation and drug reform, as well as other issues,” White wrote. “They express their views and vote accordingly without being threatened with a primary.”

White said he opposed L.D. 227 because it received opposition from the Maine Sheriffs’ Association. The association testified in March that it was opposed to language referencing law enforcement being included in the bill.

And White said he was opposed to L.D. 1619 “because the law was vague and allows late-term abortions of healthy babies up until the moment of birth.”

That bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, allows abortions to be performed at any time during a pregnancy when a doctor determines it is necessary. Under previous state law, abortions were allowed after a fetus becomes viable only in cases when the life or health of the mother is at risk.


Opponents of the bill, like White, argued that it did not define “necessary,” opening the door to late-term abortions up until birth. Advocates of the bill said it’s rare for a woman to seek an abortion at 20 weeks or later but that expanding access is necessary for about a dozen cases per year in Maine, most often in instances involving fatal fetal anomalies diagnosed late in a pregnancy.

White’s voting record prompted advocates for abortion rights to make a primary endorsement for Julia.

“We can’t trust Bruce White with our reproductive rights,” said Lisa Margulies, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund and PAC. “What Bruce continues to tell Mainers session after session, vote after vote, is that he believes he is more qualified to make private, medical decisions about our reproductive health care than Mainers and their medical providers.”


Margulies said it is rare for Planned Parenthood to make endorsements in Maine primary races, and that as of last week they were not planning on weighing in on any other primaries. The PAC has spent more than $6,300 on the race, with the money being spent on mail and door hangers, according to campaign finance reports.

Margulies said Julia “has pledged to fight for Mainers’ reproductive rights and has a proven track record as an advocate for Waterville and Waterville families.”


White said voters should also consider his record on other issues, including the environment, voter protections, property tax relief and education.

“I have many endorsements from strong leaders who don’t necessarily agree with the pro-life position, but they know my work ethic and commitment to our city and our state,” he said.

Julia said she would also ask voters to take a look at her record on other issues. She said she has been a strong advocate for Waterville schools and highlighted work that she did for years to help pay off the overdue lunch balances for children in Waterville schools.

“I’m not a one-cause crusader,” Julia said. “I fully planned on running for this seat, and I think it’s important to be clear about that. But what compelled me to run now is we need to do everything we can to protect women’s reproductive rights and it needs to happen now.”




Age: 45

Political experience: Entering third year on Waterville Planning Board, founder of Friends of Waterville Public Schools

Education: B.A. in marketing and design from Hampshire College

Profession: Administrator for an accounting firm and marketing consultant

Website: Cassie Julia

Social mediaCassie Julia for HD65 Waterville on Facebook, @cassiejuliame on Instagram



Age: 66

Political experience: Served on Waterville Planning Board for eight years until Jan. 2024, has served three terms in Maine House of Representatives

Education: Took courses at Thomas College and KVCC after high school while working, A+ certification for computer technology

Profession: Retired after working at Scott Paper for 20 years and in public schools in Winslow, Vassalboro and China for 20 years

Website: Brue White

Social media: Bruce White for State Representative on Facebook

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