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Democrat Pingree Heads Back to GOP-Controlled House for Fourth Term

Tom Porter

PORTLAND, Maine - Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is promising to continue working hard for the people of Maine, after easily winning re-election to Congress.

Pingree fended off challenges from Republican IssacMisiuk and independent Richard Murphy. She returns to Washington next year to begin her fourth term representing Maine's 1st District - the more liberal of the state's two congressional districts.

Barely one hour after the polls had closed, Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant took the stage at the Port City Music Hall in Maine's largest city to announce to a cheering crowd what everyone here had been expecting: "Today the voters of the 1st District have decided to send her back to Washington, ladies and gentlemen, Chellie Pingree."

"I'm very proud to say that I was re-elected to office again tonight," Pingree said. Flanked by supporters holding placards, Pingree said she can understand the public's frustration with Congress and its apparent inability to achieve much in the current political climate, but said this won't stop her pushing hard to promote policies she says will help the people of Maine.

"I can guarantee you for the next two years I will go to work in Washington every day and think about those opportunities we might have to move our state forward," she said, "whether it's fighting for education or women's right to choose, or making sure we fight for economic issues in our state, raising the minimum wage, keeping a clean environment, actually convincing people that global warming is real and it's already starting to have an impact."

"I think CHellie has worked really hard for the people of Maine, especially for the farmers," said supporter Malory Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy said Pingree's work on agricultural policy, such as her sponsorship of the 2013 Local Farms and Foods Act, has helped support small-scale farmers who are important to the Maine economy.

"It's an important backbone to the state of Maine," Shaughnessy said. "We're the only state in nation that has seen an increase in the number of farms in the state, and I think some of that is due to Chellie's work that's been promoting that. And we've got young people moving here to start farms and start families and to be here for our future."

Pingree won with more than 60 percent of the vote - comfortably ahead of her nearest rival, Republican Isaac Misiuk, who received little financial help from his party, and who, at age 25, was the youngest congressional candidate in the country.

Speaking earlier in the evening - before the results had come through - Misiuk said that "win or lose," his bid for Congress had been an unforgettable experience.

"Oh, man, the experience itself just been incredible, it's been very humbling," he said, "from announcing my candidacy in August last year, to speaking to over 1,200 delegates at the convention, to being at a rally with Gov. LePage and Chris Christie - I mean it's just been extremely humbling to have the support of people."

As for Pingree's future in Congress, University of Maine Political Science Professor Mark Brewer says she's well-placed to succeed, and could end up in a leadership role.

"What's really stood out to me the most about Pingree and her time there is that she has made herself really a centrally important member to her party's operations in the House," Brewer says.

He says Pingree earned a feather in her cap by winning a seat on the important Appropriations Committee. Her value to to the Democratic party, says Brewer, is also due to the help she can give to other candidates. "She is someone who other members of the party turn to for assistance, whether it's assistance in terms of policy or in terms of re-elections," he says.

Brewer says a key factor is the enormous wealth Pingree has access to through her husband - billionaire financier and noted Democratic donor Donald Sussman.

This, plus her secure electoral prospects, make her an important asset to the Democratic party.