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10 Reasons to Run for Office as an Independent in Maine

2 min read
Good Party Politics Team · Feb 8, 2024

Maine, with its rugged coastline, dense forests, and vibrant communities, offers a unique political landscape for the 2024 elections. The state is known for its independent spirit and a history of political individualism, which means that Maine presents a fertile ground for independent candidates. 

Join us as we explore why Maine is an ideal stage to launch non-partisan campaigns and what strategies can lead to a successful electoral bid for independents.

Maine's Political and Voting History

Maine's political history is marked by its independent streak and a penchant for nonconformity to strict party alignment. This is said to be due to its tradition of communitarianism, a political term that is characterized by a sense of community and harkens back to the tradition of town meetings as a means of political discourse and civic engagement. 

Maine tends to lean toward Democrats in national elections, but the state legislature and many offices are held by moderates within the Republican Party. As of 2024, Maine is a semi-open primary state

In this instance, that means voters who are registered with a party must vote for that party in the primaries. Unaffiliated voters may participate in any party’s primary. Voters can change their party affiliation up to 15 days before an election, but must be registered with a party for at least three months prior to switching. 

There are currently five “qualified” parties in Maine:

  • Republican

  • Democratic

  • Libertarian

  • Green Independent

  • No Labels

The Forward Party and People’s Party are in the process of qualifying. 

Maine is only one of two states (the other being Nebraska) that splits its electoral college votes. Two electoral votes go to the winner state-wide, while the remainder of the four are determined by the winner in each of its two congressional districts. 

This led to an official electoral vote split for the first time since enacting that rule in 1969. That split was between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.

The state has a history of electing independent candidates, most notably Angus King and James B. Longley, who both served as independent governors. King now serves in the Senate as one of two Independent senators. The other is Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The elections at the end of 2023 saw a high degree of turnover in many localities. The tradition of independence in politics indicates that Maine voters are open to candidates outside the traditional party system. 

In fact, voters in Maine went heavily for Ross Perot in both his 1992 run as an independent and his second run in 1996 under the banner of his newly launched Reform Party

Notable Independent Politicians from Maine

Maine has a distinguished history of independent political figures. Angus King, serving as both governor and U.S. Senator, exemplifies Maine’s openness to independent candidates. There are also several state-level independent politicians representing tribal and community interests. 

Representing the Passamaquoddy Tribe as a non-voting member of the Maine House of Representatives is Aaron M. Dana. House member Bill Pluecker represents District 44 and serves as Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation, & Forestry Committee. Also doing double duty is Representative Walter Riseman, who represents House District 83 and serves on both the State & Local Government and Veterans and Legal Affairs committees. 

Currently, Elias Bassile of Biddeford is running for Congress as an independent. Marty Grohman, a Good Party certified candidate and independent, is also now serving as the mayor of Biddeford.

Their success stories can inspire and guide new independents considering a run for office. If you need more incentive, here are 10 more solid reasons to run in Maine in 2024.

10 Reasons to Launch an Independent Campaign in Maine

Reason #1: Culture of Independence 

Maine's strong independent streak makes it a welcoming environment for non-party candidates. 

Reason #2: Political Flexibility

Maine’s history of fluctuating political allegiances suggests that voters are open to candidates based on their policies, not party affiliation. It was the first state to allow ranked choice voting (RCV) in federal elections.

Reason #3: Significant Independent Voter Base

Ranking 15th in the nation for independent voters and number one in voter turnout, Maine provides a substantial base for nonpartisan candidates.

Reason #4: Opportunity in Numbers

With at least 189 seats up for election in 2024, there are numerous opportunities for independents to make a mark.

Reason #5: Responsiveness to Local Issues

Mainers value candidates who focus on state and community-based issues, an area where independents can excel.

Reason #6: Dissatisfaction with Partisanship

There is a growing frustration with the two-party system, offering a space for independents to present an alternative. Recently, the city of Lewiston ousted many of its incumbent city council members. 

Reason #7: Grassroots Campaigning

Maine’s size and community spirit favor grassroots campaigns, allowing independents to build close relationships with voters.

Reason #8: Diverse Political Issues

From environmental concerns to healthcare, Maine’s varied issues provide a canvas for independents to address a wide range of voter concerns.

Reason #9: Focus on Direct Representation

Independent candidates can capitalize on the Maine electorate’s desire for direct, unfiltered representation in government.

Reason #10: Potential for National Attention

Maine’s unique position and its history of independent politics can draw national focus to successful independent campaigns.

Running for Office in Maine

For those looking to run for office in Maine, it's crucial to embrace the state’s independent ethos. Connecting with local communities and addressing Maine-specific concerns while leveraging the strong independent voter base are key to a successful campaign.

Voters will select a new Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Auditor in 2024. All 186 seats are up for grabs in both chambers of the State Legislature, which is currently under Democratic control. Term limits mean that several officials will be unable to run again in 2024. 

At the local level, Augusta is in search of a new mayor in 2024, and there will be a special election for a representative in the 122nd District. There are also seats available on multiple city and town councils, school boards, municipal boards, and special districts. 

Qualified individuals can seek office on state and local judiciaries, including the Maine Supreme Court, County Sheriffs departments, and as District Attorney in multiple localities. 

The position of Public Advocate is unique to Maine. Although it is an appointed position, the director and staff are subject to legislative review and oversight while representing the interests of the public in proceedings concerning public utilities and carriers. 

It could also provide an opportunity for an independent to forge relationships with state and local officials while building a reputation for public advocacy at the community level. 

For the most accurate and specific information regarding the offices up for election in Maine in 2024, feel free to consult the Maine Secretary of State office or the election offices of specific localities. They can provide the latest details on the positions that will be on the ballot.

Tips for Independent Candidates in Maine

As you can see, the state of Maine provides ample opportunities for a civic-minded independent to represent their community at multiple levels of governance. Mainers aren’t shy in their support of independent candidates, and they have a history of putting independents into office at the local, state, and national levels. 

In order for an independent or third-party candidate to make headway during the 2024 election cycle, they should make sure to:

  1. Understand the local issues. Maine's diverse geography, from its rugged coastline to its forested interior, means a variety of local issues. Understand and address these varying concerns, from fishing and maritime issues in coastal areas to forestry and land use in the interior.

  2. Connect with communities. Maine is known for its close-knit communities. Candidates running for local office should focus on building personal connections, attending local events, and engaging in community activities.

  3. Leverage the independent streak. Maine has a history of electing independent candidates. Emphasize your independent status as a strength that aligns with the state's political culture.

  4. Focus on healthcare and the environment. These are key issues in Maine. Tailor your policies to address local healthcare needs and environmental conservation, which are high priorities for many Mainers.

  5. Utilize digital campaigning. With a widespread population, digital platforms can be a cost-effective way to reach voters across the state.

  6. Highlight small business and economic development. Maine's economy is heavily reliant on small businesses, tourism, and agriculture. Focus on economic policies that support these sectors.

Deadlines for the 2024 Elections in Maine

If you’re looking to run for office in Maine in 2024, there are some important dates to circle on your calendar:

  • The Presidential Primary in Maine is on March 5, 2024. Hopefuls need only 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot. 

  • Candidates for all other elected positions must file by June 1, 2024

  • State primaries are on June 11, 2024, and the General Election is on November 5, 2024

Remember, Maine ranks 15th among states with the highest percentage of independent voters, signaling a significant portion of the electorate who may be receptive to nonpartisan candidates. Maine also leads the country in voter turnout

Mind the deadlines and get ready to make a political impact as an independent in 2024!

Support for Your Campaign

Whether it’s through addressing local issues, harnessing the state’s independent spirit, or capitalizing on the dissatisfaction with the two-party system, running for office in Maine as an independent can be both a challenging and fulfilling endeavor.

Fortunately, there is a growing abundance of resources and support for independent candidates who are looking to make a real difference in their communities. 

Good Party is proud to be a resource for independent and nonpartisan candidates in Maine. If you’re an independent candidate hoping to represent your community on any level in 2024 and beyond, check out our free campaign tools and expert support.

With free access to tools like our AI Campaign Manager, we’ll help you navigate the unique aspects of Maine's political landscape. We’re backed by more than 50 years of campaign experience, so book a demo today and check out the advantages Good Party support offers. 

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash


Independent Candidates
How to Run for Office
Campaign Messaging
Independent Movement
Reasons to Run for Office
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.