Both U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and his Republican challenger, Dale Crafts, are calling on legislative leaders to work together to provide more relief for Americans struggling in the face of a pandemic that has slammed many families and businesses.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, Democrat, left, and Republican congressional candidate Dale Crafts of Lisbon. Sun Journal file photos

But their agendas and approach differ, with Crafts aligning himself with those who want to open up the economy while Golden aims for a compromise that could quickly provide more money for hard-hit businesses and families.

“If we put the Maine people first instead of politics, we can and will renew the faith in the American Dream,” Crafts said Thursday.

Golden, a first-term Lewiston Democrat, this week called for party leaders on both sides of the aisle to put aside partisanship and cut a deal rather than continue a long stalemate over what proposals ought to be included in the next round of relief.

“It’s not too late to put negotiations back on the right track,” Golden said in a prepared statement.

He said this week’s $1.5 trillion proposal from the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus is a credible place to start. The lawmaker said it “shows that when party politics are taken out of the mix, there is a solid deal to be had.”

But Democrats who chair House committees put out a statement within hours insisting that the proposal Golden backed falls well short of what’s necessary. It “leaves too many needs unmet,” the committee chiefs said in a joint letter.

Crafts, a former state lawmaker from Lisbon who hopes to unseat Golden on Nov. 3, said that while “Jared and I can agree” that “when people work together, we can get things done,” the incumbent has shown he doesn’t do it.

“For far too long, Jared Golden has been silent on the impact the virus has had on the Maine people and the Maine economy,” Crafts said. “Now, just several weeks from an election, he has decided to start trying to insert himself into the conversation.”

Golden has been consistently urging more help for Maine businesses and workers since the start of the pandemic last spring. He opposed one major Democratic bill for relief in May because, he said, it abandoned a bipartisan approach and made “more difficult the type of compromise that will be required.”

Crafts, who won a Republican primary in July, has been most visible in demanding that Maine reopen for business rather than pressing for relief or public health measures to slow the spread of the disease.

Back in April, for instance, he joined a lawsuit against the state’s restrictions on church gatherings and declared that “the actions of [Gov.] Janet Mills have not saved lives, but instead hurt Maine businesses, separated families, and inflicted irreparable damage to Maine’s economy.”

“I have been fighting alongside business owners, pastors and concerned Mainers to reopen Maine, and I will not stop until we do just that,” Crafts said in a May fundraising email.

This week, Crafts accused Golden, who defeated a two-term Republican to win the 1st District race in 2018, of following his party’s leadership too often.

Golden, though, has taken a number of high-profile votes in opposition to what Democratic leaders supported, including a vote against the $3 trillion relief package the House passed in May, opposing one of the two measures adopted by the House to impeach President Donald Trump and refusing to go along with the choice of Nancy Pelosi to serve as House speaker.

Golden’s support for a specific proposal to kick-start relief also breaks with Pelosi, who has repeatedly called for Republicans to offer more before she’ll back a deal.

The Problem Solver relief package Golden endorsed, which has 25 Democratic and 25 Republican members, offers a framework for the next six months to help the unemployed, small businesses, state and local governments and more.

It calls for a new round of $1,200 checks for Americans, $120 billion in new unemployment assistance, $500 billion for state and local governments, $290 billion for small businesses and nonprofits, $145 billion for schools and child care, $400 billion in election support and a number of other measures that include aid for everything from broadband to the U.S. Postal Service.

“My colleagues and I on both sides of the aisle stand ready to negotiate and work together,” Golden said. “We’re committed to staying in Washington and doing our jobs until we deliver for our constituents.”

“Helping people that have lost jobs, keeping our hospitals fiscally healthy, and saving small businesses is more important than any campaign,” Golden said.

Crafts outlined a different and less specific agenda he would like to see Congress focus on to address COVID-19.

“We must continue to work to increase rapid COVID testing and develop a safe vaccine,” Crafts said, and “we must protect Mainers who are vulnerable not by government demand but through providing resources to the state and local governments, education and self-responsibility.”

“We must rebuild our economy, get America working again and continue pro-growth tax policies that increase take-home pay and encourage innovation,” Crafts said.

“Then we must modernize our medical stockpile and be more fiscally solvent to prepare for future pandemics,” he said.


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