By The BDN Editorial Board
The choice before voters in Maine’s 1st Congressional District is familiar: Vote to re-elect Democrat Chellie Pingree or cast a ballot for a little-known Republican challenger with little backing from his party.
The Maine Republican Party has failed moderate voters in southern Maine for years by not building up a cadre of qualified, reasonable candidates who would be able to win a primary and seriously challenge Pingree. The district leans Democratic, but by failing to put up serious candidates, the party is disenfranchising a large percentage of voters.
As GOP consultant and 1st District resident Lance Dutson wrote earlier this year, “Republicans have a winning message for CD 1 if they can focus on what matters to the district and not what plays best to the talk-radio base.”
Mark Holbrook, a psychologist from Brunswick, eked out a win in the 1st District Republican primary against Ande Smith, a more moderate candidate.
Holbrook, who sees many veterans in his private practice, has a personal understanding of problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs and has worthwhile suggestions for improvements.
But his extreme conservatism and denigration of people who weren’t born in Maine is not a good match for Maine’s 1st Congressional District.
Holbrook has mocked political correctness, opposed extending civil rights protections to transgender students and praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for “saying what he thinks.”
Pingree has made support for small farms a priority in her eight years in Congress. The most recent Farm Bill contains many provisions she championed, which will help local growers and producers by improving their access to financial support from banks and the federal government and helping to expand markets for locally grown products.
Pingree also has worked on veterans issues, and she sponsored legislation that made it through the Republican-controlled House to help military sexual assault victims obtain VA benefits. The bill was named for Ruth Moore of Milbridge, who was raped while in the Navy and later diagnosed with a mental illness.
Pingree supports raising the minimum wage and opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which we think are helpful policy positions for low-income Maine residents. Pingree also occupies a valuable seat on the House Appropriations Committee, one of the chamber’s most influential committees.
She has put her influence to good use in recent years as a member of the minority party in a challenging political environment. She deserves to return to Washington, D.C., where she will continue to ably represent Maine’s 1st District.