PORTLAND, Maine — Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree scored an easy re-election in Maine’s 1st Congressional District, after opening a wide lead over Republican challenger Mark Holbrook in early returns, according to unofficial results.
The Bangor Daily News called the race shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Pingree will return to Congress for her fifth term in office.
Like their up-ticket counterparts in the presidential race, Pingree and Holbrook staked out dramatically different positions on issues facing the country and state. During a debate hosted by WMTW-TV, the candidates broke sharply on questions of health insurance and taking in refugees.
Mirroring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Holbrook decried political correctness as “a totalitarian ideology” and reportedly referred to Syrian refugees as a potential “Trojan Horse.” But even as Trump appeared to gain ground in Maine’s more rural, less diverse 2nd District, Holbrook struggled to get traction in the more liberal-leaning 1st, and Pingree maintained a large lead in polls by the Portland Press Herald.
During an election when expanding background checks for firearm sales was on the Maine ballot, Pingree managed to step briefly into the national discussion on gun control. In July, she participated in a sit-in on the floor of Congress to demand tighter gun control after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at a gay nightclub in Florida.
Pingree, who holds a seat on the influential House Appropriations Committee, was further aided in her victory by a campaign war chest far larger than Holbrook’s. As of Oct. 19, the congresswoman had spent nearly five times as much as her opponent, according to federal campaign finance disclosures.