Republican Eric Brakey addresses supporters in front of Democratic Rep. Jared Golden's office in Lewiston on Dec. 18, 2019. Credit: Andree Kehn / Sun Journal via AP

Former state Sen. Eric Brakey has done more for the 2nd Amendment in Maine than many other elected officials combined. In my experience, he is the perfect, proven and effective gun rights champion in the race for Congress in Maine’s 2nd District, and that’s why Brakey has my vote.

If you’re a Republican who pays attention to current affairs, I don’t need to reiterate how troubling the first half of 2020 has been, both in Maine and on a national level. From ongoing broad and baseless attacks on our president, to the unnecessary politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic, through previously unseen social unrest, it’s taken a toll in our business, personal and professional lives.

While these issues have been largely outside of our control, one thing we have the absolute ability to influence is choosing a Republican candidate in July to appear on the ballot this November who can defeat Rep. Jared Golden in the 2nd Congressional District and help bring Republican control back to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C.

Brakey is the candidate I’ll be supporting in the July primary race. While I admire all who are running, it’s Brakey who can take back the 2nd District in November and give our president the support he so drastically needs to keep our nation moving forward.

I’ve been directly involved in grassroots firearms issues in Maine since the 1980s and there are very few elected officials who’ve worked as hard as Brakey to protect and preserve our right to self-preservation. With his diligence and work ethic, Brakey built political bridges, not only to safeguard our rights as they existed, but he also led the charge to expand the recognition of our rights, overseeing what many people thought as impossible, passing constitutional carry.

Some legislators had been trying to pass constitutional carry for decades. It had become a perennial issue that hard-fighting Republicans couldn’t even pass when they controlled every elected body in Augusta. Then Brakey came along and got the job done during his first year in office — even with Democrats in charge of the Maine House — by organizing a huge grassroots effort with thousands of Maine people to win our gun rights back.

Many in the Maine gun owner community met Brakey for the first time in the fight for constitutional carry and still remember both his rare ability to articulately defend our right to keep and bear arms, while effectively mobilizing grassroots Maine people to defeat Michael Bloomberg’s well-funded opposition campaign.

A lot of candidates talk the talk. People who walk the walk are rare, and that’s why we need to send Brakey to Congress. He doesn’t just say he’s going to fight for our rights, but has proven that, even when up against astronomical odds, he’ll fight by our side and never back down.

Since leaving the Maine Senate a few years ago, Brakey has remained a tireless fighter and it’s been my pleasure to work by his side, successfully leading the charge to defeat some of the most draconian restrictions I’ve ever seen introduced, including “red flag” gun confiscation orders.

Whether it’s been in an official capacity as a state senator, or as a tireless grassroots activist, Brakey has given no less than 100 percent in his commitment to fighting for our right to keep and bear arms. We need this kind of personal dedication in Washington to safeguard our rights during these most troubling times.

While we may seem unable to influence many of the issues that work against our individual liberty these days, there is absolutely one thing that is completely within our abilities. Let’s send Eric Brakey to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. I hope you’ll join me in my effort to do exactly that on July 14.

Jeff W. Zimba of Fairfield is a Master Maine Registered Guide and longtime grassroots activist.