Eighth-generation lobsterman Jason Joyce of Swan’s Island will address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday as President Donald Trump prioritizes Maine and its most iconic industry in an election year.
Joyce, 50, is the only Mainer with a speaking slot at the convention, according to a list provided by the Trump campaign on Sunday. He will speak on the second day of the four-day convention, to be officially held in Charlotte, North Carolina though much of the programming will be remote because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump will formally accept his party’s nomination to run for re-election on Thursday a week after former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, did the same at his party’s convention. Biden has led Trump in national polls since becoming the presumptive nominee in April and has led the Republican president by more in Maine.
But that is not the whole story since Maine is one of two states that split presidential electors by congressional district. Trump lost the Democratic-leaning state in 2016, but won the more conservative 2nd Congressional District and is making a large play here in a repeat bid.
Reached briefly by cellphone on Sunday, Joyce said his address would be pre-recorded from Washington, D.C., but that he couldn’t speak longer with a reporter because of a tight travel schedule. He is expected to speak in favor of Trump’s trade and fisheries policies. Joyce has been an active advocate for lobstermen and was profiled by the Bangor Daily News in 2012.
Since Trump addressed a fisheries panel in Bangor in June, he has fixated on the lobster industry, which was hammered by Chinese and European tariffs in a trade war with the protectionist president. The European Union agreed to drop those tariffs in an agreement announced Friday by the administration and hailed by the industry.
It is only part of what Trump has recently promised to lobstermen. After his Maine visit in June, he directed trade offset aid to the industry that has not yet materialized. His trade adviser told the BDN last week that it should be available in September. The state’s congressional delegation asked the administration to expedite the aid last week.
In Maine earlier this year, Trump also signed an executive order opening a national marine monument to commercial fishing. It was applauded by regional fishing interests, but it is well out of range for most Maine fishermen. In a speech last week, the president falsely said it is “right off the coast of Maine.” The 5,000-square-mile monument is 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod.