PORTLAND, Maine — Incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree declared victory in her 1st District race against upstart Republican Jon Courtney on Tuesday night just before 10 p.m.
“Clearly the voters have said to me, ‘We’ve all worked hard over the last four years, there’s still more work to do,’” Pingree told a room full of applauding supporters at Portland’s Bayside Bowl, owned by state Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland. “I hope my colleagues all over the country are getting the same message I did: That we have to fight for jobs, to fight for the working people, to fight for health care for everybody, to have the courage to talk about climate change, make sure we’re there to fight for equality for all people … and to put our country back on the right track.”
Pingree held nearly 66 percent of the vote with three-quarters of the district’s 168 precincts reporting at about 1 a.m.
Courtney claimed 844 of the first 899 votes reported in his home York County on his way to a spry start. However, Pingree battled back, claiming 3,605 of the next 5,771 reported in Maine’s southernmost county.
She also dominated in the state’s most populous county, Cumberland, with 69 percent of the vote to 31 percent — after 84 percent of the precincts in that county had reported.
Courtney, of the York County town of Sanford, told the Bangor Daily News, he “thoroughly enjoyed going around the district … and listening to the people on Main Street — it’s been a terrific honor, nobody owes me anything. I had the greatest summer of my life meeting the people of Maine.”
Courtney, speaking earlier in the day, said if he were to lose the race, “the only person I have to blame is myself.”
“[If I lose it’s because] I wasn’t a good enough candidate to sell the message, because I think the message is good enough,” he said. “The message of getting people together, the message of getting Congress to work together, the message of taking on a $16 trillion debt and not kicking it down the hall.”
Courtney spent his Election Day visiting polling places in the 1st District.
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 on Thursday.
Pingree, of North Haven, won 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.
Prior to winning the 1st District seat in 2008, Pingree lost a 2002 challenge against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for the Republican incumbent’s U.S. Senate seat. This was Courtney’s first campaign for federal office.
Pingree had a huge lead in campaign fundraising. The candidates’ most recent Federal Election Commission financial disclosures showed that Pingree 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 attracted no outside money.