Two of the Democrats vying for the right to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin this fall announced endorsements this week that might boost their chances in June’s primary.
The most surprising came when two-time Lewiston mayoral contender Ben Chin, who lost runoffs in both 2015 and 2017, threw his support to Monroe home builder Jonathan Fulford rather than his hometown contender, Rep. Jared Golden.
“I’m proud to be endorsing Jonathan because his vision, integrity and commitment to Maine and its people are second to none,” Chin said in a prepared announcement.
Chin’s backing is yet another indication that Fulford is resonating with progressives in the 2nd District. Local Berniecrats Maine, a local affiliate of Our Revolution, has also endorsed Fulford.
But Golden, who has the support of most of his Democratic state House colleagues as well as U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., remains a strong option for rank-and-file party members who will choose their standard bearer on June 12.
The winner of the primary will take on Poliquin, a two-term Republican, in the November general election.
Fulford is not the only one of the six Democratic candidates to come up with an important endorsement this week.
Lucas St. Clair, whose advocacy for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument donated by his family, got a thumbs-up from Sally Jewell, the former head of the U.S. Department of the Interior in President Barack Obama’s administration.
In a prepared statement released by his campaign, Jewell called St. Clair “a bold visionary and the type of leader that we need in Congress.”
“I worked closely with Lucas during the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a major achievement for Maine and the entire country,” she said.
“Throughout the process, he listened to supporters and detractors and used their ideas to make the monument better. He kept his word, permanently protecting access for hunters and snowmobilers, and showed incredible perseverance and commitment.”
Jewell said St. Clair “has the ability to bring people together to do big things and solve real problems” and “demonstrated grace under intense pressure” as the sole witness before a GOP-controlled congressional hearing considering the proposed monument.
Another test of which of candidates may have staying power in the race will come when year-end campaign finance reports are filed soon with the Federal Election Commission.
Money is not everything, though.
Kristen Smith, chair of Local Berniecrats Maine said in a written statement that in deciding to endorse Fulford, members of her group “asked ourselves who is willing to fight big money in politics, is not afraid to speak truth to those in power and supports the working people of Maine.”
“We are confident that Jonathan will fight for living wages (and) health care for all, while fighting against the corruption inherent in our current, big-money-driven system,” she said.
Chin, political director for the liberal Maine People’s Alliance, said Fulford “is the only candidate that has rejected dark money this campaign.”
“I know that he cannot be bought, will stand on principle and will not be another vote for the elite,” Chin said.
Fulford said he is honored to receive support from Maine’s leading progressives.
“I pledge to continue working hard to earn the support of Maine people,” Fulford said. “It’s time for an economy and tax system that invests in the working class, establishes universal health care and creates jobs by addressing climate change.”
Golden has some solid support, as well. Two unions — the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine and the Maine State Council of Machinists — have endorsed him.
Also in the running on the Democratic side: Tim Rich, a Bar Harbor restaurant owner, and Craig Olson, an Isleboro bookstore owner.
Another candidate, Phil Cleaves, a rural mail carrier from Dexter, has dropped out and thrown his support behind Tiffany Bond, an independent.
Democratic congressional candidate Jonathan Fulford of Monroe. (Courtesy photo)