With the sole Bates College alumnus serving in the U.S. House of Representatives due to retire this year, the small liberal arts college faces the possibility that not a single one of its former students will serve in Congress in the next session.
But there’s also a chance it could wind up with two members come Election Day.
One of the Bates graduates who is seeking a U.S. House seat hasn’t strayed far from campus.
Lewiston state Rep. Jared Golden, a Leeds native who graduated in 2011, is the Democratic challenger to Maine’s 2nd District congressman, Republican Bruce Poliquin. If Golden wins, Bates will be in his district.
The other contender is a Republican from Virginia, Ben Cline, who earned his degree at Bates in 1994.
Cline hopes to claim a congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, a Roanoke attorney who also attended Bates. Cline worked in Goodlatte’s office for eight years after college.
Cline served as president for New Dominion Solutions before earning a law degree from the University of Richmond in 2007. His legal experience included time as an assistant prosecutor.
He’s been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2002.
A Democratic delegate to the Virginia House, Paul Krizek, said Cline is “a good guy who always would listen and give advice before killing my bills.”
“He’s very conservative, but is approachable and clearly cares about his public service,” Krizek said.
Democrat Jennifer Lewis is given little chance of defeating Cline in the heavily Republican congressional district.
Golden’s race is one of the closest in the nation, rated a toss-up by most observers and showing a dead heat in most polls.
In addition to Poliquin and Golden, there are two independents in the Maine contest, Southwest Harbor educator Will Hoar and Portland lawyer Tiffany Bond.
The election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Ben Cline (Provided photo)
Jared Golden (Provided photo)