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by Faith DeAmbrose
At a Republican Caucus held Saturday, July 14, to nominate a replacement candidate for Madeleine Gay Leach, the delegates chose Sherman Hutchins, Sr., 64, of Penobscot. Hutchins will face Brooksville Democrat and incumbent Ralph Chapman in the November general election race for the District 37 seat.
Leach withdrew from the race on July 6 for health reasons, ahead of a July 9 deadline that allows the party to name a replacement candidate.
In a telephone call on Monday, July 16, Hutchins said he was happy to receive unanimous support from his fellow Republicans, although he admits he attempted to nominate Royce Perkins of Penobscot first.
Hutchins will run a traditional campaign, free of so-called Clean Election funds. While he said he is not opposed to others who choose this route, he does not believe taxpayers should foot the bill for his campaign. “Win or lose,” said Hutchins, “I will be saving about $5,000 in taxpayer funds” by opting out of the Clean Election System. He said the focus of this election should be about creating a government “Mainers can afford,” and “sizing state government to what fits us,” and he sees his steps as steps in that direction.
Hutchins is not a newcomer to the Republican Party by any means. He served one term in the House of Representatives during the 114th legislative session, (although since his tenure about two decades ago, the borders of the district that represents this area have changed), and has long been involved “behind the scenes” in the campaigns of many Republicans, including most recently for Gay Leach.
Hutchins has served as the town of Penobscot’s town meeting moderator for the past 25 years and also officiates town meetings in Orland and Dedham.
While acknowledging that his campaign “is certainly abbreviated,” he plans to hit the ground running. “This is going to be a great challenge, but it will also be a lot of fun,” said Hutchins, adding that the party did not want to see the nomination ultimately go unfilled. He plans to hold fund-raising events in the near future and will announce them as they are created.
House District 37 includes the towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville, Castine, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Surry.