A Democrat who finished behind Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the first round of balloting has come from behind to flip the seat in the second of its two U.S. House races.
Election officials declared Jared Golden the winner Thursday after a federal judge denied Poliquin's request to halt tabulations under Maine's new voting system.
The outcome was a dramatic reversal in a four-way race.
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Poliquin received the most first-place votes on Election Day but additional tallies were required because no one won a majority.
Golden, a Marine Corps veteran, declared himself the "majority consensus winner" and told reporters he wants to bring to Washington, D.C., the type of leadership he saw in the Marines.
"The best leaders were the ones who didn't worry about who got credit for getting the job done," he said. "Imagine what Congress could do if we had more leaders like that in Washington?" he added.
The ranked-choice voting system lets voters rank candidates from first to last on the ballot. Under the system, last-place candidates are eliminated and have their votes reallocated until one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.
Maine's election marked the first use of the system in U.S. House and Senate races.
In this case, Poliquin and Golden both collected 46 percent of first-place votes, with Poliquin maintaining a slim edge of about 2,000 votes. But additional tabulations were triggered because no one collected a majority.
On Thursday, Golden overtook Poliquin after state election officials eliminated two independent candidates who trailed, collectively gathering about 8 percent of first-place votes. A computer algorithm reallocated the second-place votes, giving Golden a lead of nearly 3,000 votes.
Poliquin questioned the election results Thursday under Maine's ranked-choice voting law. He repeated his claim he "won the constitutional 'one-person, one-vote' first-choice election" on Election Day.
Poliquin also said he isn't abandoning a federal lawsuit in which he seeks to have Maine's new ranked-choice voting system declared unconstitutional.
The legal challenge by Poliquin and three GOP activists served as the backdrop for the dramatic finale of a hard-fought battle that became the most expensive congressional race in state history.
Poliquin's lawsuit remains alive because Judge Lance Walker didn't rule on the constitutionality of the system.