Maine Democrat Jared Golden appears to have dethroned Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Maine secretary of state's office announced Thursday, after the state's first adventure in ranked-choice voting for congressional races.
While Poliquin won more votes than Golden on Election Day, the state's new rules don't crown a candidate with a plurality the winner.
Instead, the vote moved onto a second round where votes from the lowest-finishing candidates are redistributed to the voter's next preference until only two candidates remain.
Golden surged ahead thanks to an overwhelming edge among those who cast their ballots for one of the independent candidates but ranked Golden above Poliquin.
The Democrat finished with 50.53 percent of the vote, compared to the Republican's 49.47 percent, the secretary of state's office announced.
"It looks like Jared Golden is the apparent winner," Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced at a press conference where the results were unveiled.
Maine voters blessed the new electoral procedure in previous ballot questions, and while the state has run other elections under the new rules, this was the first time a congressional race was decided by ranked-choice voting in the nation's history.
But with Poliquin emerging from Election Day with the edge but not the victory, his campaign has tried to challenge the constitutionality of ranked voting in court.
Hours before the results were announced, a federal judge denied Poliquin's appeal for an injunction that would have blocked the ranked-choice runoff.
But he's expected to continue to press the case in court, as a spokesperson said Thursday before the results were announced that "we will still proceed with constitutional concerns" even "if Congressman Poliquin prevails in the rank vote algorithm."
Poliquin has long been on the Democratic target list in a district that voted for both President Obama and President Trump. But surviving a handful of tough races over the years, he fell to Golden, a member of Democratic leadership in the state House and a Marine veteran.
The victory brings the Democrats up to a net gain of 35 seats in the House.