U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree announces her win during an event hosted by the Maine Democratic Party at Aura in Portland on Tuesday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Rep. Chellie Pingree won her reelection bid in Maine’s 1st Congressional District on Tuesday, earning her eighth term in office.

Republican challenger Ed Thelander, a military veteran, was making his first run for office.

The Associated Press called the race for Pingree just after 11:15 p.m. By midnight, Pingree led Thelander 60% to 40% with 58 percent of the vote counted.

Pingree was first elected to Congress in 2008 and has easily defended her seat since then. In 2020, she won reelection with 62 percent of the vote, and her district is heavily skewed toward registered Democrats.

Pingree spoke to supporters at Aura in Portland around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday after some media outlets called the race for her.

“I know it’s going to be a long night of challenging races across the country, certainly in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, but I’m very excited that I get to know this information this early in the night,” Pingree told the crowd. “I feel so fortunate to represent the 1st Congressional District and to get a chance to represent and work for all of you.”


Thelander conceded just after 11 p.m.

“We gave it our all,” a downbeat Thelander said at an empty LePage campaign headquarters in Lewiston. “The people have spoken.”

The geographically smaller of the state’s two congressional districts, the 1st District covers the southern coastal area of the state. It includes all of Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and York counties and part of Kennebec County. Portland, Brunswick, Biddeford and Sanford are located within the district.

Pingree, 67, lives on North Haven, an island in Penobscot Bay. A former state senator, Pingree challenged Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2002, but lost that race. Before winning her congressional seat in 2008, Pingree was president and CEO of Common Cause, a national nonprofit with a mission of being a watchdog on government. She has three grown children.

Pingree is part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has most recently been an advocate for Maine workers trying to form unions.

Thelander, 53, served in the Navy for 21 years and participated in U.S. operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, according to his campaign website. He lives in Bristol with his wife, Liliana, who immigrated from Venezuela and became an American citizen in 1999. They have three children.


During debates leading up to Election Day, Pingree and Thelander clashed on a number of issues, including abortion, federal spending and energy policy.

Thelander has argued that the U.S. could bring down prices in general by increasing the supply of oil. “We’ve got to start drilling for oil again here in America,” Thelander said during a debate on Oct. 12. “Getting the price of oil down is going to help with everything.”

Pingree said during the same debate that while Maine residents are facing a difficult winter with rising energy costs, drilling for oil won’t help. “I believe investing in renewable energy is how we’ll bring the costs down,” she said.

On abortion, Thelander broke with some in the Republican Party by pledging to vote against national bans on abortion, such as a bill proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. He has said that the issue should be left to the states.

Pingree, meanwhile, has sounded the alarm on abortion rights, arguing that even in Maine, where abortion rights are codified into law, the rights are under threat if there were ever a national abortion ban or if Republicans won control of state government.

“With control of Washington hanging in the balance, we have urgent work ahead of us to restore reproductive rights, help working families struggling with global inflation, push back on threats to democracy, and protect our planet from the climate crisis,” Pingree said in a statement Tuesday night.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.