“Maine has shown the way for the rest of the country,” said Jennie Pirkl, campaign manager for Mainers for Health Care after the passage of Question 2 to expand Medicaid coverage passed with 59% of the vote Tuesday night. “Voters have sent a clear message to Augusta, Washington and the rest of the country that they want more health care, not less.”
The Medicaid expansion referendum passed with the highest percentage of the vote of any citizen initiative in almost two decades.
Across the nation, voters strongly backed progressive causes and candidates, from electing Democratic governors in New Jersey and Virginia to electing the first openly-transgender state legislator in the country.
In Maine, voters in Belfast elected Samantha Paradis over a five-term incumbent. Bangor voters elected new city councilors Clare Davitt and Laura Supica and Ben Chin won a 42% plurality in a five-way race for mayor in Lewiston. That election will be decided in a run-off in December.
Statewide Question 4, which was backed by labor unions and is intended to help the state’s pension system be more robust in the face of Wall Street crashes, passed with an unexpectedly large 63% of the vote. In Portland, a referendum to renovate four elementary schools passed with the support of 64% of city voters.
Volunteers at polling places across the state also gathered petitions to put future progressive policies – a people’s veto to protect ranked-choice voting and an initiative for universal homecare for seniors and Mainers with disabilities – forward as referendums,
National media outlets framed Maine’s progressive results, especially the Medicaid expansion result, as a national bellwether on the Affordable Care Act and a direct rebuke to federal politicians, including Maine’s own Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who have advocated for cutting medicaid and repealing health care coverage.