LEWISTON — Third-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden said Friday that former President Donald Trump picked the wrong guy to endorse between the Republicans vying to replace him.

Trump this week endorsed former NASCAR driver Austin Theriault from Fort Kent in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race, rather than state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips.

Soboleski said in a statement posted on social media that he’s “been a supporter of Donald Trump for 40 years” and continues “to support him and his candidacy.”

He said he has “the experience, conservative values and proven leadership that comes from being a Marine veteran to beat Jared Golden in November.”

Theriault, who is also a state representative, said he’s looking forward to working with Trump, who lost a reelection bid as president in 2020 but refused to concede defeat and led an unsuccessful and sometimes violent attempt to prevent the winner, Democrat Joe Biden, from taking office.

“I’d rather face a neoliberal like Austin Theriault than another Marine like Mike Soboleski,” Golden said Friday.


Golden said it is funny that Trump, the near-certain Republican nominee for president this year, would back Theriault “who just a few years ago was talking about running as a Democrat” rather than “backing the guy who has supported Trump all along.”

“I guess the Washington establishment wants Theriault,” Golden said. “Either way, it’s nothing new here for me. I’ve beat Trump-backed candidates before.”

Theriault, who has the backing of House Speaker Mike Johnson and other GOP leaders in Congress, said on social media he is “excited to be working with another proven champion to save America.”

In a written statement he posted on social media, with random capitalization of words, Trump said Golden “poses as a ‘bipartisan politician,’ but is instead completely beholden to the Radical Left.”

Trump falsely said that Golden, who votes against Democratic President Joe Biden’s positions more than any other Democratic lawmaker on Capitol Hill, “supports Joe Biden’s Open Borders Agenda, Out-of-Control Spending, and Costly Regulations that hurt Maine’s Great Lobstermen.”

In fact, Golden introduced legislation that would restrict wind energy projects in lobster fishing zones and has joined with other Maine legislators, including Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, to try to fend off new regulations aimed at protecting endangered right whales.

Trump said Theriault would “work hard to Secure the Border, Protect our always under siege Second Amendment, Stop Crime, Cut Taxes, and Support our Brave Law Enforcement, Military, and Veterans.”

“Austin Theriault has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” the former president wrote.

Theriault and Soboleski will face voters in a June primary to decide which will represent the Republican Party on the general election ballot in November.

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