Republican state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips announced Thursday that he plans to challenge a three-term Democrat for Maine’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House.

Mike Soboleski Submitted photo

Calling U.S. Rep. Jared Golden the “enabler-in-chief” for President Joe Biden, the 67-year-old Soboleski vowed to be “a conservative fighter for Mainers.”

Soboleski, who is in his first term in the Maine House of Representatives, is the second GOP contender to jump into the race against Golden, joining Robert Cross of Dedham, who declared his intention months ago.

But Republicans are eyeing some better-known contenders to take on Golden for a seat that both parties consider vulnerable, including state Rep. Austin Theriault of Presque Isle, a 29-year-old race car driver.

Golden, a 41-year-old combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq, is among the Democrats most likely to vote against Biden’s agenda, registering opposition to the president’s Build Back Better plan and his student debt relief proposal.

Golden won the congressional seat in a close, three-way election in 2018 decided by ranked-choice voting in which he defeated two-term Republican Bruce Poliquin. Two years later, he beat Republican Dale Crafts of Lisbon and in 2022 beat Poliquin again.


Despite Golden’s success in twice chalking up victories against Poliquin, who proved his political strength by winning the seat in two consecutive election cycles, political experts consistently rate Golden among the most vulnerable Democrats because former President Donald Trump had big support in the district in 2016 and 2020.

“I want the America I grew up in,” Soboleski said in a campaign video released Thursday.

He said Maine is losing jobs to China, the nation’s borders are “wide open” and illegal drugs are “flowing into rural Maine.”

“People are angry,” he said. “People are frustrated. They see their freedoms being eroded every day and they’re struggling to stay afloat.”

Soboleski, who pledged to push for completion of a wall along the Mexican border, called himself “a lifelong conservative” and “a problem solver” who could make a difference in Washington, where Golden is co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Soboleski was born in Gardiner, joined the Marine Corps as a young man and earned a degree from the University of Maine at Machias after his military service. He made a living selling equipment, but also worked as a stuntman.


In 2020, he ran the field operations for the U.S. Census Bureau in Maine. Two years later, he won election to the Maine House.

But Soboleski, like Cross, remains a little-known political figure in a sprawling district where it’s difficult to gain name recognition without a lot of advertising.

At the end of June, Golden had $611,000 in his campaign treasury. Cross had $31,000. But if campaign experts in Washington sense a close race in the district, millions of dollars in political action committee funds and other donations will pour into the contest.

One possible contender, state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, took himself out of contention Thursday.

“The rumor mill is churning,” the Auburn Republican wrote on X, formerly named Twitter. “Maine political insiders have been calling me for weeks, asking if I am running for Congress in Maine’s 2nd District. My answer is — no.”

Brakey said he plans to seek reelection to the state Senate instead.

If there is a primary in the congressional district, it will be held next June. The general election is November 2024.

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