By The Portland Press Herald Editorial Board
Her deep connections to a diverse district make her the right choice for another term in Congress.
There are not many congressional districts as diverse as Maine’s 1st. It not only contains the state’s major urban center, but also farms, forests and seacoast, each with its own unique demands on their member of Congress.
Fortunately, the district is well represented by a person who has had the capacity to understand all of those competing interests. We enthusiastically endorse Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for re-election this fall.
Pingree has shown herself to be a solid match for her district, winning re-election three times by wide margins, even in years like 2010 and 2014, which were bad ones for Democrats. She does that because she is in touch with her constituents and reflects their values. We can count on Pingree to maintain strong, progressive positions on health care, immigration, gun control, reproductive rights and environmental protection. But her ability to work for her constituents when Congress is mired in partisan extremism is even more impressive.
Pingree has been able to find common ground on issues that matter back home. For instance, as a member of the Agriculture Committee, she was able to work with conservatives who wanted to change a farm policy that was focused exclusively on commodity subsidies. That created opportunities for small farmers in Maine.
On climate change, she is working with representatives from other coastal regions, such as Alaska Republican Don Young, on protecting communities from the damages of sea level rise. Pingree rightly understands that Mainers need help, and they won’t get that from an ideological battle.
These are the kind of alliances Maine needs to make, and it’s the kind of work that we would expect to see more of from Pingree if she is returned to the capital.
We don’t believe that her opponent, Republican Mark Holbrook, would be that kind of leader. Holbrook is an outspoken critic of government, but has little to offer in the way of constructive solutions. His ideas about immigration and economic development are simplistic, pitched more for talk radio than for productive action. Washington already has too many people who are more interested in taking a hard line than in getting any work done.
Holbrook narrowly won a low-turnout primary last June after leading Republicans decided that the race was not worth their while. This lopsided general election is what you get when a popular incumbent is running for another term. As a result, the people of the 1st District are being denied a robust contest of different ideas on how to make government work.
But at least there is one candidate in the race who offers a positive vision, and that’s why we enthusiastically support Pingree’s re-election.