Two years ago, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden narrowly won his 2nd District seat on the second round of ranked-choice voting in a four-way contest. This year, he faces just one opponent — Republican Dale Crafts — and according to a recent poll is leading him by 22 points. But Golden says he’s taking nothing for granted.
In 2018, Golden used every campaign tool at his disposal to upset two-term Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin was just shy of a majority of votes in the first round of balloting, and Golden won in the second round under ranked-choice voting.
Golden says he misses the personal campaigning this time around, but has bolstered his use of advertising, social media and virtual campaign events.
“I’ve traveled around this district and been to hundreds and hundreds of towns, held over 20 town halls. Met with my constituents regularly and communicated with them openly,” he says.
Golden served in the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is positioned as a moderate Democrat who worked for Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins after graduating from Bates College. He went on to serve in the Maine legislature as assistant Democratic floor leader under House Speaker Sara Gideon. He says the election will turn on whether voters in the 2nd District think he has done a good job representing them.
“They’re going to make the decision on Election Day based upon how they feel about the job I have done and how I have done it, represented them,” he says.
Golden says the most pressing issue for voters is the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic effects of steps taken by governments at all levels to address the crisis. He says he wants his colleagues in Washington to reach agreement on additional aid to hospitals, individuals and businesses.
“Has Congress done enough? No, obviously not. We are still in the midst of dealing with the coronavirus. It has not gone away. It is not going away anytime soon, and Congress has an ongoing responsibility to meet the needs of our constituents,” he says.
Golden has embraced the efforts of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House to craft a compromise relief package. He voted against a $2.2 trillion plan advanced by House Democratic leaders that he dismissed as partisan posturing, and wants a package that can get Republican votes in both houses and also provide needed aid.
University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer says Golden’s independent inclinations have helped him build support in the district.
“I think Golden has to be the favorite because he is the incumbent and he is also a good fit. We were talking about Dale Crafts being a good fit for the district — I think Jared Golden is also a good fit for the 2nd CD,” he says.
While the 2nd District race was considered close earlier in the year, that has changed, according to Colby College government professor Dan Shea, who has Golden at 56 percent and Crafts at 33 percent in a recent poll.
“Once you begin to crossover the 50 percent mark at this point in the campaign, that’s pretty good,” he says.
But both Shea and Brewer point out that this has already been an election year like no other in recent history, and that unforeseen events in the next few weeks could affect the outcome of the race.