AUGUSTA, Maine — Demonstrating the quiet confidence of a well-financed incumbent, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, kept a low profile during the final days of this year’s race to represent Maine’s 1st Congressional District.
By contrast, Pingree’s Republican challenger, Maine Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney of Springvale, planned to maintain an aggressive pace of person-to-person politicking right up until the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Courtney, who narrowly defeated Patrick Calder of Portland in the June 12 Republican primary, spent the final week of the campaign touting his “Solutions for Main Street” message.
Maine’s U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Republicans, joined Courtney on walking tours of downtown businesses Wednesday in Bath and Portland, respectively. He attended sporting events Friday and Saturday, then traveled along Route 302 and Route 202 to meet business owners and voters Monday, according to campaign manager Keith Herrick.
Courtney planned to start his Election Day polling place visits in Waterville on Tuesday morning. His itinerary included other polling places, with an afternoon stop in Sanford to vote with his son, Adam, who is a candidate for Maine House District 143.
After a relatively quiet weekend, Pingree campaigned Monday and Tuesday with Maine Senate District 6 candidate Jim Boyle in Scarborough. She also met voters Monday at Becky’s Diner in Portland, where Courtney had held a press conference Thursday. A longtime advocate of same-sex marriage, she plans to visit the Mainers United for Marriage gathering in Portland on Tuesday night.
Pingree, of North Haven, is seeking her third two-year term representing the 1st District, the southernmost of Maine’s two congressional districts. In 2008, she defeated Republican Charlie Summers, now Maine’s secretary of state and a candidate this year to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe. Two years ago, she defeated Republican Dean Scontras to win her first re-election bid.
Before winning the 1st District seat in 2008, Pingree lost a 2002 challenge against Collins for the Republican incumbent’s U.S. Senate seat. This is Courtney’s first campaign for federal office.
Pingree holds a huge lead in campaign fundraising. The candidates’ most recent Federal Election Commission financial disclosures show that Pingree has raised $989,497 to Courtney’s $121,596 through Oct. 17. Other than a $50.80 contribution to Pingree from a group that raised money to support the re-election of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who lost in his district’s Democratic primary, the 1st District race has attracted no outside money.
Throughout the race, polls have shown Pingree with a comfortable double-digit lead. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 1st District, which has elected Democrats in eight consecutive elections and 12 of the last 13.
In contrast to Maine’s U.S. Senate race, which generated millions of dollars of attack ads, and what has become a more contentious 2nd Congressional District contest between incumbent Democrat Mike Michaud and Republican Kevin Raye, Maine Senate president, the tone of the 1st District race remained largely cordial. In late October, Courtney ran the campaign’s only negative television ad, which criticized Pingree for failing to follow through on a past pledge to reduce the influence of money in politics.
Both candidates plan to await vote returns at Portland venues. Pingree will join U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill and other Maine Democratic Party candidates and officials at the Bayside Bowl. Courtney’s campaign will gather at the Hilton Garden Inn.