AUGUSTA — Portland builder Benjamin Pollard announced Thursday that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate next year on the Democratic ticket.
Pollard, 45, is the second Democrat to join the race against U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who is seeking his second term representing Maine on Capitol Hill. Pollard also sought the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat in 2012 but finished fourth in a four-way primary with roughly 8 percent of the vote.
Maine’s 2018 Senate election is not expected to be a particularly close contest, although that could change if Republican Gov. Paul LePage decides to join the race. King, who is 73, served two terms as governor and has enjoyed high approval ratings during his first five years in the Senate, according to polls. King’s seats on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have also garnered him national media attention.
Pollard announced his candidacy via a video shot atop Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain just after sunrise Thursday, timing that the Blue Hill native said signifies his belief that “a bright new day of peace and harmony with nature is coming soon.”
“I am running for Senate because I care deeply about the serious problems facing our country and the world,” Pollard said. “My empathy and open mind allow me to hear and appreciate different political perspectives, and my creativity and vision guide me in proposing policies that can heal the divisions in our country and bring stability to the international community.”
Four other individuals have already announced Senate bids: Republican Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, Democrat Zak Ringelstein of Portland, Libertarian Chris Lyons of Brunswick and independent Alex Hammer of Bangor. Party candidates must obtain at least 2,000 signatures from registered Maine voters in order to qualify for the ballot, and independents must obtain at least 4,000 signatures to qualify.
Only Brakey has filed campaign finance paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, reporting more than $126,000 in contributions and roughly $53,000 in cash on hand as of the end of September. King, by comparison, had raised more than $2.6 million and reported $1.5 million in his campaign coffers.
LePage has publicly toyed with the idea of challenging King, but also has dismissed such suggestions, most recently after reports that President Trump wants him to run.
Ben Pollard (Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald