Voters in Maine’s 1st Congressional District have three distinct choices for their representative in Congress.
Democrat Chellie Pingree is running for her sixth term representing the southern and coastal district. Republican Mark Holbrook, a therapist, is challenging Pingree for a second time, after garnering 42 percent of the vote to Pingree’s 58 percent in 2016. Independent Marty Grohman, a two-term state lawmaker and businessman, rounds out the trio.
Pingree, a former state lawmaker and business owner, has ably represented the 1st District with a focus on farming, veterans and health care. She has served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee for six years. With Democrats in the minority in the House for the last four years, Pingree has worked with Republicans on diverse issues, ranging from prescription drug prices to funding for the arts. If Democrats win control of the U.S. House in this election, Pingree will be well positioned to be influential on issues and funding important to Maine.
No matter which party controls the House, she will continue to be an important voice and vote for issues important to Maine — affordable health care and health insurance, strong environmental protection regulations, reasonable but not punitive immigration laws, among many others. She will continue to oppose Republican efforts to rollback the Affordable Care Act’s patient protections and to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare to pay for tax cuts.
She is worthy of 1st District voters’ first choice in November’s election.
Ranked-choice voting will be used in this race, opening the door for Grohman, who left the Democratic Party in 2017 because he said party affiliations often made lawmakers take votes that were not in the state’s best interest.
As an independent, Grohman aligns with Democrats on some issues — he says the ACA should be fixed, not repealed, and he supports criminal justice reform — and Republicans on others — he believes the GOP tax cuts have worked to create jobs and bring companies back to America.
His pledge to not caucus with either political party in Congress, however, could leave the 1st District with little representation except when his vote was needed if a tally was extremely close.
Again this year, the Maine Republican Party has failed moderate voters in southern Maine by not building up a cadre of qualified, reasonable candidates who would be able to win a primary and seriously challenge Pingree. The district leans Democratic, but by failing to put up serious candidates, the party is disenfranchising a large percentage of voters.
Holbrook, who sounds much more reasonable in conversation than his nasty social media posts would suggest, is at the far right of the GOP. He calls for sealing America’s borders, to keep out “narcoterrorists,” as part of the solution to the opioid crisis. He says people with pre-existing conditions will simply have to pay more for health insurance.
His pledge to hold monthly town halls in the district is a good one.
Pingree has put her influence to good use in recent years as a member of the minority party in a challenging political environment. She deserves to return to Washington, D.C., where she will continue to ably represent Maine’s 1st District.
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Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that Mark Holbrook is a psychologist. Holbrook’s psychologist license was canceled by the state in 2015.