Rep. Jared Golden holds an engraved stone to commemorate a deceased veteran as he hikes Black Mountain in Rumford on Aug. 20. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Former U.S. Sen. William Cohen endorsed Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in TV ads set to air across the state on Thursday, praising the freshman Democrat for “fighting for the constituents in your district.”

The move by Cohen, a moderate Republican who served for 24 years as a member of Maine’s congressional delegation and as defense secretary under former Democratic president Bill Clinton, is less surprising than it would have been in past years since he emerged as a sharp critic of President Donald Trump during his 2016 rise.

But the endorsement is notable since Cohen has largely stayed out of Maine politics of late. Golden, who narrowly beat incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin in a 2018 race decided by ranked-choice voting, has developed a rapport with Cohen, an 80-year-old Bangor native, since going to Washington.

“You are fighting for the constituents in your district,” Cohen tells Golden in the ad.

Though Cohen has vociferously backed U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican and former Cohen staffer in a tough 2020 race against House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, he has increasingly embraced Democrats. Four years ago, he backed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 race.

Golden is facing former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon in a Nov. 3 election that was expected to be a close matchup in a district won easily by Trump in 2016, but the Democrat has outperformed other Maine candidates in polls this year. He led with 56 percent of votes to Crafts’ 37 percent in a survey earlier this month from The New York Times and Siena College.

At the same time, polls have shown Trump and Biden locked in a tight race in the more conservative and rural portion of Maine. Golden has navigated his district carefully during his short tenure, including when he was the only House member to split his votes on two Democratic articles of impeachment against Trump late last year.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...