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Case Study: Marty Grohman’s Independent Win in Biddeford, Maine

2 min read
Marty Grohman
Emily Dexter · Jan 29, 2024

On November 7, 2023, voters in Biddeford, Maine elected Martin “Marty” Grohman as their newest mayor. Grohman is an independent and Good Party certified politician, bringing nonpartisan leadership to his southern Maine city.

Grohman spoke with Good Party about his campaign for office, his priorities for the next two years, and the importance of independent politics in local government:

Running and Winning as an Independent

Grohman launched his campaign after the outgoing mayor, Democrat Alan Casavant, asked him to run for office. Casavant had served as mayor for 12 years, and was not seeking reelection.

Grohman’s main competition in the election was Democratic candidate Susan Deschambault, a former state senator. In the end, Grohman beat Deschambault by 671 votes, coming away with a total of 2,894 votes. But during the campaign, his win was far from guaranteed. Grohman’s campaign pulled ahead with the help of a strong campaign message, a team of volunteers, and support from Good Party’s free tools and resources for independent candidates.

“I outworked her, to be honest. I think I was more genuine,” Grohman said. “Also, I think I had a much better debate and I think people viewed me as more authentic.”

Prior to running for mayor in Biddeford, Grohman served as a Maine state representative for two terms between 2014 and 2018, as well as a city council member between 2021 and 2023. Having been a former Democrat, Grohman said he understood the extent of the support that the Democratic Party offers its candidates, and was grateful to be able to rally enthusiasm for his campaign without help from any major political party.

“Knowing what they have on the Dem side, they have some serious stuff,” Grohman said. “The Good Party tools, as far as the texting and outreach, that really is good. I think it takes away that advantage or at least it evens out the playing field.”

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Running for office as an independent also allowed Grohman to focus on the issues, rather than on heavily fundraising.

“I had raised $265,000 when I ran for U.S. Congress, and I hated it. It was awful. I would spend 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. every day on the phones,” Grohman said. “I just told myself I wasn't going to do that this time. So I focused a bunch on really just doing a good job on the issues. 

“There were four major things that people would sort of uniformly say to me, and it was just a question of what order they were in. So I just started hammering those points and saying, ‘This is what I'm going to do.’ Then I almost really didn't have to ask for money anymore, because people would call me up and say, ‘If you're going to do that, I'll give you $100 or whatever.’ That made it way easier. I also tried to run a cheap campaign.”

Volunteer support further contributed to running a cost-effective, people-powered campaign. Grohman identified community volunteers who were already serving on city committees that aligned with his campaign’s top issues, and was able to mobilize volunteers to aid in voter outreach.

An Independent Mayor in Office

As mayor, Grohman is the only member of Biddeford’s city government who is not a registered Democrat. However, he said he views most local problems as solvable without getting into the weeds of partisan politics. While even independent voters can become polarized over controversial issues, like gun rights and abortion, most everyday concerns are less divisive.

“Those types of issues are, for most people, not the ones that are really driving their day-to-day,” Grohman said. “They want better schools, smoother roads, and things like that. So I recommend focusing on what genuinely is day-to-day driving people's pain points and talking about how you will address them.”

For instance, bicyclist and pedestrian safety is a local issue in Biddeford that Grohman feels can be handled in a nonpartisan fashion.

“I've been hearing politicians say, ‘There's not a Republican pothole or Democratic pothole; it's just a pothole. Fix the pothole.’ I think that’s a good line and it's a good way to think about it,” Grohman said. “I'm also a part of this mayor's group, and people say, ‘There's three political parties in this country: Democrats, Republicans and mayors, because mayors got to get things done.’ So I like that, and I think that's unifying for independence.”

Grohman went on to say that future independent candidates shouldn’t shy away from answering divisive questions. However, he would personally rather focus on more practical, everyday issues.

“Whether your parking garage is plowed properly or something like that is where I want to stay. I can be the guy who works on that. I think those kinds of things tend to make party divisions go away rather than build up,” Grohman said.

Some of Grohman’s top priorities for his time in office include serving local veterans, reducing costs for taxpayers, and supporting the work of Biddeford’s Climate Change Task Force. Biddeford elects its mayors for two-year terms, meaning Grohman will have the chance to campaign again in 2025.

Helping More Independent Candidates Run and Win

Marty Grohman is one of a growing number of independents across the United States who have used Good Party’s free tools to run a successful campaign for office. Get a free demo of our campaign tools to learn how our resources and support could help you or someone you trust to launch your own independent campaign. Or, learn more about Marty Grohman and the nine other independent candidates who won their local elections with the help of Good Party’s tools in November 2023.

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Marty Grohman
By Emily Dexter
Emily Dexter is the content marketing coordinator at Good Party. Based in the Midwest, she brings a fresh perspective and editorial experience to the team.