Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden is one of three candidates vying to challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
Golden is currently serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives, where he is now the assistant majority leader. Golden is a military veteran who served for four years in the U.S. Marines, with deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Bates College.
Maine Public’s Mal Leary opened the interview by asking Golden what sets him apart from his two Democratic challengers:
Leary: There are three Democrats that are seeking the nomination for Congress in the 2nd District, and on many issues, you all pretty much sound alike. What particular proposal or proposals sets you apart from the others?
Golden: First thing I want to say is something that really sets us apart, I do think, is experience. I have a record of service in the Legislature that I think is very important. It tells voters who I am and what I’ve stood for - a record they can verify. So, they don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m making promises - they can look and see that I’ve always stood by my word and fought for the issues that I have prioritized here. I think a few differences between us: When people ask us what we prioritize, I often point out having served four years in a divided government. You have to search for the issues that can be good and positive for your community and that you know you can work across the aisle on. So, I’ve been talking a lot about infrastructure. The president of the United States says he wants to rebuild American roads and bridges, and I think we can work with him on that. And it would bring in a lot of jobs in the construction and building of roads and bridges, and so I’d like to work with him on that. That’s one thing. But certainly, I think I’ve come out quite strongly in support of Medicare for all, and talked a lot about standing by labor and trying to strengthen unions at a time when I think the economy is unbalanced and unfair to workers.
Leary: The polls continue to show that jobs is the most important concern for voters in the 2nd District, particularly. What could you do, or what would you do as a member of Congress to help grow the economy?
Golden: I’m always skeptical when I see politicians say that they’re going to create jobs, that they’re going to go somewhere and put in a piece of legislation and revive some kind of industry or bring a new one here. I think that it is far more complex than that, and often it is the private sector and the marketplace that drives things. So, for me it’s a focus on, how do we help small businesses? Often, government’s role, in my opinion, is to make the investments that it’s very clear small businesses can’t afford to make themselves. Again getting back to infrastructure — they can’t afford to rebuild our roads and bridges, but it’s very important to the work that they do. That’s one good example. I think about big monopolies, large companies, that are dominating the market. What can we do to help level the playing field so that small businesses can compete?
Leary: What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the country, and what would you do to address it?
Golden: I think that, certainly, we have to talk about the culture of our own political leadership and discourse. We’ve become very divided. I think it’s scary. It scares me. I think it scares a lot of people, and I want to offer a different kind of leadership in that regard. If you wanted a specific policy now, I guess I would say given what happened in 2017, we have to find a solution to health care in this country. It’s costly and we have a lot of people, still, that don’t have access to it.
Leary: Voters participating in this June primary election will be using ranked-choice voting for the first time. Assuming that you plan to vote for yourself in that first slot position, who will be your second and third choice in this primary?
Golden: You know, I went to a house party that I had invited some people and someone asked a woman, after spending 30 minutes with me, “So, you’re going to vote for Jerry.” And she said, “You can’t ask me that, it’s private what I do in that booth.” I’m going to vote for both of them — I can tell you that — because of ranked-choice voting. I haven’t decided who gets my second and third vote yet.
This interview has been edited for clarity. For a longer version of this interview, aired as part of a Public Affairs special program, click here. For more on Golden’s stances on the issues, and other Democrats in Maine’s 2nd District race, click here. Visit our Your Vote 2018 page for more elections resources and information.