Maine House members today vote for new leaders.
From the beginning of his bid for House leadership earlier this year, state Rep. Mark Eves encouraged his fellow Democrats to believe in themselves and in the common sense of Maine voters. Now after two years as the minority party, Democrats have retaken control with at least 89 of 151 seats in the House -- and that number could increase pending several recounts.
In a show of support, House Democrats elected Eves as their nominee for speaker on the first ballot. Eves told colleagues that Democratic solutions for a better Maine economy are within sight -- but it will take time.
"We have lost a lot of ground over the last two years, but I am confident we can regain it," Eves (left) said. "And I believe the tide is turning."
The election of the speaker will be held on Dec. 5 and is determined by a majority vote of all 151 members of the Maine House. Since Democrats already control nearly 60 percent of the seats, Eves is effectively the 101st speaker of the Maine House. He will join with new Democratic president of the Maine Senate to draw up joint rules for both bodies and determine committee assignments and the political composition of those legislative policy panels.
"Now that we are back in power, it's time for us to start to heal the wounds, bridge the divides and change the conversation," he said. "We must build support for initiatives that will help move the state forward. The people of Maine haard out message this fall and they gave us clear majorities. We need to enlist their passion for their state in hleping to move the policies behind that message here in Augusta. Democrats must stand up and show that we will work for the best interests of all Maine people."
Eves fended off bids from state Rep. Mike Carey, of Lewiston; Diane Russell, of Portland and former assistant House Democratic leader Terry Hayes, of Buckfield. Hayes told fellow Democrats that they should enjoy their work this session.
"I want to have fun at this," Hayes said. "If we're not enjoying it, then we need to change how we're doing it so that we can. And that doesn't mean that we won't do hard work and there won't be days we go home, primal scream in the car and yanking on our hair, because we'll do all of that. But at the core, I hope you enjoy this role."
Maine House Democrats also elected state Rep. Seth Berry, of Bowdoinham, as their new majority leader. House Republicans are scheduled to meet Wednesday to determine their leaders for the next two years.
Photos by A.J. Higgins.