An Unusual Election in Lewiston, Maine
Despite the death of candidate Mark Paradis of cancer last week, the mayoral runoff election in Lewiston between him and Robert MacDonald will still be held today. If MacDonald wins, he will become mayor, but if the voters select the deceased Paradis, a new election will be held.
This kind of election isn't entirely undprecedented, and candidates who have died during campaigns have actually won votes for high office. In 2000, for instance, future Attorney General John Ashcroft lost his Missouri Senate seat to Governor Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash a few weeks before the vote. Carnahan's wife, Jean, was appointed to fill the office.
It also brings to mind one of my favorite scenes from the show The West Wing, where a congressional challenger has died and his campaign manager, determined to continue the fight, explains at a press conference that there are "worse things in the world than no longer being alive," specifically the political positions of the incumbent.
There are many in Lewiston that feel this way about MacDonald. Although the election is non-partisan, MacDonald was by far the most conservative candidate in the initial field. As you can see from his League of Young Voters questionnaire, he has some strong (some might say innapropriate) words for anything hinting at diversity or public assistance.
Several prominent supporters of the more moderate Paradis, including current Mayor Larry Gilbert and Lewiston State Senator Margaret Craven, have urged voters to cast ballots for Paradis in order to show support for the deceased candidate's values and prompt a new election, denying the mayoralty to MacDonald.