Republican Dale Crafts handily won the 2nd District congressional primary in July, defeating two better-known opponents.
Crafts is a businessman who has served in the Maine Legislature and is hoping that his strong support of President Donald Trump will give him an edge in November against incumbent Democrat Jared Golden.
Crafts says he misses the handshaking and the one-on-one, personal campaigning of the past. He has had to adapt to expanded use of social media to get his conservative message to voters.
“They want open borders. They want to defund the police. I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand that thinking whatsoever. We have got to protect America,” he says in one posting.
Crafts, who has used a wheelchair since being injured in a motorcycle accident at the age of 25, went on to own and operate several businesses and raise a family. He attributes his success to the American entrepreneurial spirit and says his bid for Congress is a way to give back to his country.
“My kids are all grown, I have the time, I have people running my businesses, which are doing a great job, so why not give back to this country what it’s given me?” he says.
Crafts portrays himself as a strong supporter of President Trump and his policies, from trade to defense and law and order. But he is critical of Trump and Republican congressional leaders for failing to resolve the prolonged gridlock blocking further economic stimulus measures.
Crafts says Republicans could learn from one former president who found a way to work with a feisty Democratic House speaker.
“You remember them days when Ronald Reagan could sit down with Tip O’Neill and they disagreed on things, but you know what, they could sit down and be very civil and come up with some solutions and compromises. That has got to happen pretty soon,” he says.
Crafts says there has been bipartisan support for pandemic response efforts through testing, personal protective equipment and vaccine development, but he says he also would have liked to see a national policy on business closings and other protective limits.
“Have we made this pandemic worse? Is the shutdown worse than the pandemic? I’m starting to wonder if it is. And I hope and pray a lot of this hype we see out here isn’t political,” he says.
Fundraising, Crafts acknowledges, has been a challenge. As of the last reporting period, he had raised just over $330,000 compared with Jared Golden’s $2.8 million. Both are also receiving some support from their national parties.
But University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer says the race has been somewhat overshadowed by another major contest on the November ballot.
“Attention is getting taken away from that race a little bit because of the Collins-Gideon race, which is at the top of many people’s national Senate race list. And we are seeing the money coming in is just swamping attention to anything else,” he says.
But given the conservative makeup of the 2nd District, University of Maine at Farmington political science professor Jim Melcher believes Crafts could be bolstered by the endorsement of Trump, who won the district by 10 percentage points four years ago.
“Crafts has tied himself to Trump, has said that he will be a vocal supporter of him. To the extent Trump does well in the 2nd District that is bound to help Dale Crafts as well,” he says.
One poll from Colby College, however, places Trump slightly behind Democrat Joe Biden in the district, and gives Golden a 21-point lead over Crafts.
Originally published at 5:28 p.m. Sept. 29, 2020.