Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree announced Tuesday that she’s not running for governor. The decision ends widespread speculation about her intentions and leaves intact a crowded field of 22 declared candidates, including 10 Democrats.
Pingree says her decision to stay out of what’s expected to be a wild governor’s race is because the progressive struggle is acutely focused on Congress and the White House.
“The dangers we are facing right now as a nation, and a state, the challenges that we have in front of us with this crazy administration and real work that needs to be done that hasn’t been done by this Congress,” she said. “I want to continue the fight, whether it’s on global warming or the cost of health care, trying to restore the middle class and fight back against this tax cut, which is going to decimate our middle class. There is so much work to be done.”
Pingree’s reasoning, posted in a video message, was similar to that of Republican U.S. Sen Susan Collins, who in the fall also spurned the temptation to replace Republican Gov. Paul LePage, whose second term ends next year. But unlike Collins, who openly flirted with a gubernatorial bid for the better part of a year, Pingree made her decision after publicly floating her possible candidacy two weeks ago.
“While it would be wonderful to run across the state, to run for governor of the state of Maine — we really need someone who can undo the damage that this governor has done to our state — there are some great Democratic candidates out there and I have no doubt that one of them will make a wonderful governor,” she said.}
The quick turnaround of Pingree’s announcement was a sharp contrast to Collins, who drew out the suspense for months before announcing her decision at a business event in Rockport that garnered national media coverage.
Both women were arguably their parties’ top prospects to replace LePage next year. But both may have had other reasons to stay out of the governor’s race.
Collins was considered a favorite to win the contest, but only if she could woo GOP primary voters sometimes hostile to her image as a moderate.
It was the opposite for Pingree.
Her consistent positions on progressive policy issues would have made her the favorite in the Democratic primary.
But Pingree’s reputation as a liberal champion may also have given her trouble in the general election, especially in parts of the state that last year voted for President Donald Trump and LePage twice before that.