A growing number of national Republican Party figures are backing congressional hopeful Austin Theriault, a state lawmaker from Fort Kent who hopes to challenge three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in next year’s race for Maine’s hotly contested 2nd Congressional District.

Austin Theriault Submitted photo

“We’re honored to be making waves across the country right now,” Theriault’s campaign manager, Shawn Roderick, said in a memo to friends and top supporters Thursday.

Theriault, a former NASCAR driver, has garnered support from the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, according to Roderick’s memo.

Stefanik said she’s backing Theriault “because he understands that hardworking middle-class Americans in rural areas all across this country are being hurt” by policies she attributes to President Joe Biden and Golden.

“I want to help a new generation of leaders with fresh ideas bring real results to the American people, and Austin will get the job done for Mainers,” Stefanik said.

Theriault is locked in a primary contest with state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips, a small town in Franklin County.


Both men have garnered support from colleagues in the Legislature and other GOP figures in Maine. There haven’t been any public polls to indicate whether either of them is leading.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden stands Oct. 26 between Lewiston City Councilor Stephanie Gelinas and Central Maine Healthcare president Steven Littleson at Lewiston City Hall. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Roderick said Theriault and his team are “already firing on all cylinders.” He said he thinks his candidate has “serious momentum.”

Soboleski’s campaign did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Golden has held the 2nd District seat since he defeated two-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2018. Last year, he thwarted Poliquin’s bid to regain the seat.

The Cook Political Report, which rates how close political races are expected to be, currently calls the 2nd District contest a toss-up.

A primary in June will decide whether Theriault or Soboleski will hold the Republican line in the 2024 general election.

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