Viewpoint: Our Maine CD2 and Jared Golden 



By Jack Russell 

 

Most welcome the complexities of being a citizen in Maine’s Second Congressional District. We bestow our own Electoral College vote. We gave it to Trump by a 10 percent margin, but did the same for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. We’ve been purple for half a century.  

We are the biggest district east of the Mississippi and the second most rural in the nation. Travel around and you’ll find wonderfully varied communities: Former and current mill workers in Rumford, Bucksport and Millinocket; Quebecois along the St. John; good people who live off the water from Penobscot Bay to Eastport; comfortable retirees in coastal enclaves, thousands of hard-working folks one bad break from bankruptcy, proud Somalis making new lives in Lewiston, and most members of the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot nations. 

We welcome tourists, work the land, harvest the sea, tend forests, do serious science, educate our kids, keep the roads clear, respect each other’s ways and rights, and get along most of the time.  

But, like most Americans, we do argue about politics — taxes, gun control, health care and environmental policies. Winning a majority from this diverse and sometimes divided constituency is a challenge.  

Democrat Mike Michaud won a close race in 2002 and represented us in Congress for six terms. When Mike ran against Governor Paul LePage in 2014, Republican Bruce Poliquin won the open 2nd CD seat and was comfortably re-elected in 2016.  

But by the summer of 2017, Poliquin faced serious headwinds. His tepid support for unpopular President Trump dismayed most Democrats and many ardent Trumpers. Poliquin had become famously unavailable, avoiding public events and the press.  

Democrats generated a worthy candidate to challenge Poliquin — Jared Golden, a 36-year-old State Representative from Lewiston. He served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Marine. After graduating from Bates College he worked on a senate committee for Susan Collins. He came home to work for the Maine House Democratic caucus and in 2014 was elected to represent Lewiston. He proved to be a respected legislator chosen by his peers as Assistant Majority Leader in 2016. He defeated Poliquin in November 2018 by 3,509 votes. 

I helped Jared as a donor, door-knocker and grass-roots organizer and will again in 2020. He listens, explains his votes, and responds to criticism. Consistent with a campaign stand, he did not vote for Speaker Pelosi but now expresses deep respect for her leadership. Early in 2017, he was one of two Democrats to vote against the leadership’s gun control bill, believing it was close to a state referendum recently rejected by his district, but remains comfortable with his D- rating from the NRA.  

Jared votes with the Democratic Caucus more than 90 percent of the time, supporting hundreds of progressive bills. He voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power but against Article II on obstruction of Congress. I disagreed, but respect his carefully reasoned, widely communicated explanation. 

A Golden stand I do not support is his plan to remain neutral in our 2020 Senate race. Senator Collins must go. After the primary, Jared should support the Democratic nominee.  

So, bottom line, he’s independent like many of his constituents, but we have a Congressman who has earned the chance to do the job for another term. 

Jack Russell writes on politics and conservation from his Echo Lake-side home. 

 

 

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