October 19, 2018
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Pingree turns back challenges from political newcomers to gain re-election

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a North Haven Democrat, easily defeated two lesser known challengers Tuesday to win a fourth term.

Pingree defeated political newcomers Isaac Misiuk, a Republican from Gorham, and Libertarian-leaning independent Richard Murphy from Sanford.

Within minutes after the polls closed, the Bangor Daily News projected Pingree as the victor in what most political analysts expected to be a lopsided win.

“I’m very proud to say that I was re-elected to office again tonight,” said Pingree to a cheering crowd of supporters just after 9 p.m. at Port City Music Hall in Portland. “I want to thank my two opponents, who kept this lively, for being great opponents. … Even when there’s partisan gridlock and even when I can’t convince the folks on the other side of the aisle, I still think every day about what I can do to help the state of Maine. I can guarantee for the next two years I will go to Washington and fight for you every day.”

Although Pingree will likely return to a U.S. House more heavily dominated by Republicans, the Democrat said she looks forward to returning to Washington to continue her “work to grow the local farm economy and reforming the country’s food policy.”

In three previous elections in the state’s left-leaning southernmost district, Pingree handily defeated three well-known Republicans: soon-to-be Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers, businessman Dean Scontras and former state Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney.

Her challengers this year were far less prominent.

Misiuk, who celebrated his 26th birthday watching election result tabulations at the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa, is a former intern for Republican Gov. Paul LePage. The nontraditional University of Southern Maine sophomore also has held a leadership position in the Cumberland County Young Republicans and worked as a field organizer for the College Republican National Committee.

Murphy, 37, is a member of the National Guard and longtime construction worker who joined the race in part out of frustration with the economy and job market.

Neither one managed to move the needle of public sentiment against Pingree, 59, whose polling advantage seemed to just grow as the subdued campaign cruised toward Election Day, contributing to a popular sense of inevitability over her re-election.

Both opponents sought to portray Pingree, who is married to billionaire investor Donald Sussman and maintained a huge fundraising advantage in the campaign, as too wealthy to represent the interests of struggling Mainers.

But Pingree countered that her background as a small-business owner and single mom, as well as her voting positions in support of raising the federal minimum wage and expanding health care coverage through President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — measures which her conservative challengers opposed — proved otherwise.

Financially, Pingree collected nearly $400,000 in campaign contributions by the latest federal deadline of Oct. 15, much more than Misiuk’s $20,000 or Murphy’s $9,000. But Pingree, who political pundits repeatedly said was in no danger of an upset, didn’t take to the television airwaves until late in the process, releasing her first TV advertisement in late October, weeks after candidates in Maine’s more contentious races began buying up air time.

BDN State House Bureau Chief Christopher Cousins contributed to this report.

 


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