One of the national Republican Party’s top priorities, aside from looking for porn on Hunter Biden’s laptop, is getting rid of U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District. That’s curious, because Golden votes with the GOP more than any other Democrat in Congress. But in Washington, it’s not how you vote that counts. It’s whether you represent a district that still believes Donald Trump is the rightfully elected president.
Unfortunately for Republicans, lots of local Trump-humpers seem satisfied with Golden’s voting record on gun rights, support for law enforcement and limiting government regulations. The GOP spent big money in the last three elections trying to defeat him with a notable lack of success.
Did the pachyderm party learn anything from those failures? Possibly they’ve finally figured out that former congressman Bruce Poliquin, who’s now lost to Golden twice, is widely disliked, even by many GOP voters. Nevertheless, they’re still offering a bunch of MAGA chuds and fringe weirdos as possible nominees in 2024.
And here they are.
Liz Caruso, a Caratunk selectwoman, has the distinction of being one of the few people to lose an election to Poliquin. Still, with no money, little organization and hardly any name recognition, she got 40 percent of the vote in the 2022 Republican primary by coming across as more conservative and less obnoxious than her opponent. That’s half of what the district’s voters seem to want.
Eric Brakey, an Auburn state senator, has run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2018, losing by a landslide to independent Angus King, and for the 2nd District seat in 2020, finishing third in a three-way GOP primary. Brakey is more libertarian than Trumpian, but has a hard time staying in the sane lane when issues get heated. Until last week, his Wikipedia page described him as an “American-Russian politician.” That weird reference has since been taken down.
State Rep. Laurel Libby of Auburn told the Bangor Daily News she hasn’t ruled out running for Congress, but is currently devoting herself to opposing Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to expand abortion access. During the pandemic, Libby was a leader of anti-vax efforts, encouraging health care workers to quit their jobs rather than get jabbed. “To be clear,” she proclaimed, “this is war.” She also opposed sending checks to taxpayers to pay for increased heating costs, even though that was a Republican idea.
Former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon ran a credible race against Golden in 2020, considering the Republican Party gave up on his candidacy a month before election day. Crafts, who has deep ties to the Christian right, recently resurfaced with an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald in which he opposed Maine’s efforts to restrict “forever chemicals” called PFAS because they don’t “protect the compounds’ essential uses.” Maybe not the most appealing campaign platform.
Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart of Presque Isle ran for Congress for about 20 minutes in the last election cycle, before opting to return to the Legislature. Stewart appears to be having too much fun getting steamrolled by majority Democrats to try again, but who knows.
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Lisa Keim of Dixfield wrote an op-ed in the Sun Journal last month claiming evil Chinese technology may have infiltrated every corner of Maine government. She’s sponsored a bill to prohibit the state from buying anything from China ever again. Does that establish her foreign policy chops?
The only officially announced candidate is Robert Cross of Dedham, who lost a GOP primary race for state Senate last year. He’s a mortgage broker, former federal bureaucrat and comes from the family that started Cross Insurance. He told the Bangor paper he has “an interest in people in general.”
One final possibility: Oxford County Judge of Probate Jarrod Crockett, a former legislator and military veteran, has made occasional noises in the past about running for Congress. Crockett is a more mainstream conservative than any of the above mentioned right-wing firebrands. If he decides to actually run, he’d appeal to any traditional Republicans that still exist, as well as like-minded independents, who’ll be able to vote in partisan primaries for the first time in 2024.
Of course, those are the same people who are just as happy voting for Golden.
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