AUGUSTA – Sen. Arthur Mayo of Bath, newly re-elected to a second term, said Tuesday he had switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat.
“It’s a change in affiliation. It’s not a change in philosophy,” said Mayo, whose move across the political aisle boosts the Democratic Senate majority in the new Legislature to 19-16.
Characterizing himself as a long-standing “liberal Republican,” Mayo said, “It has been increasingly difficult in the Senate Republican caucus” for someone of his political persuasion.
He said he believed the Republican Senate bloc has “moved to the right” and that at least some of his GOP colleagues had become uncomfortable with his voting and stances on some issues.
Mayo specifically cited his support for the Dirigo Health program, “which is not a Republican position.” The program was designed and shepherded into law by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.
Mayo said the turning point for him was resistance in Republican ranks to his continued service on the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee.
Mayo, who previously served four terms in the House of Representatives, has served on the panel dealing with banking and insurance matters since entering the Legislature a decade ago.
In a telephone interview, Mayo posed a question for himself, asking if he should have registered as a Democrat earlier and, answering his own query, said, “Possibly.”
Mayo said he had been mulling the move since last week’s swearing in and that he formally made the change Tuesday.
“I filed a card today. … It has happened,” he said.
Mayo said he had received a satisfactory rating from a pro-business advocacy group and that his votes on labor issues had alternately pleased or displeased one side or another. He added that he did not plan to alter his approach and had so informed Senate President Beth Edmonds, D-Freeport.
“I can’t say where I will be committeewise,” Mayo said.
The switch should give Senate Democrats, whose original edge in the chamber was a mere one vote, some breathing room.
At the same time, the 19-16 advantage remains modest and compares to a similarly modest Democratic edge in the House of Representatives, where the outcomes of three district elections are under review.