Jonathon Fulford (left) speaks at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery, which hosted a forum for Democratic candidates for Maine’s Second Congressional District last week. PHOTO BY DAVID ROZA

Democratic candidates for Congressional District 2 speak in Orland

ORLAND — Four men who hope to represent Maine’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives gathered at the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery on Dec. 7 to answer questions from their potential future constituents.

However, most of the questions asked in the hatchery’s crowded theatre did not have to do with the candidates’ policy ideas. Instead, most of the questions were about the incumbent congressman, Republican Bruce Poliquin, and how the Democratic candidates proposed to beat him in the 2018 election.

Lucas St. Clair

“I got in this race to defeat Bruce Poliquin,” said one of the candidates, Lucas St. Clair. “That was absolutely first and foremost my goal. And whether I do it personally or whether someone sitting next to me does it, the goal remains the same.”

St. Clair helped lead the effort to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Penobscot County. That effort, St. Clair pointed out, involved speaking with thousands of Mainers over cups of coffee to hear their opinion on the monument. Former President Barack Obama created the monument in August 2016, which St. Clair pointed out as a victory over Poliquin, who opposed the monument.

“The reason why I think that I have a good chance to beat him is that I’ve beat him before,” said the Dover-Foxcroft native. “I’m confident we’ll be able to deploy those same types of skills to do it again.”

St. Clair said he wanted to make sure Maine is investing in its infrastructure, schools and access to health care. If elected, he said he would work tirelessly to “give everyone an honest shake.”

Jonathan Fulford

Jonathan Fulford, a Waldo County farmer and construction business owner, said grassroots activism was the key to victory in the election.

“The only way to beat Poliquin is not going to be by raising more money than him,” he said. “It will be by grassroots effort … by putting up a bold, positive vision of the future that everybody could rally behind, that’s how we get people fired up.”

Fulford has lost two close elections for Maine State Senate against Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau. The Monroe resident said his top priority is fighting climate change.

“I’m a builder,” he said. “The way you create jobs is you fix something, you make something. Let’s make a better world.”

Fulford said his two other priorities are to encourage universal, single-payer health insurance and to fight income inequality.

“When we talk about what’s really affecting people’s lives and what’s holding us back, that’s how we’re going to win,” he said.

Rep. Jared Golden

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) said his breadth of experience would serve as a boon to his campaign against Poliquin.

“I’ve pushed a broom as a janitor in a motor home, I’ve made pizzas at night, I’ve checked IDs at a bar,” said the two-term state representative and assistant majority leader, who also served as a Marine Corps infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’m a proud, progressive leader but I know how to reach across the aisle and work in this system to get things done,” said the Lewiston resident, who sponsored several successful bills in the Maine Legislature, including one to provide case management services to veterans for mental health care.

Golden said Poliquin’s own behavior gave him confidence for the election. Shortly after Golden announced his campaign in August, the Maine Republican Party, the National Rifle Association and one of Poliquin’s advisors issued statements against Golden.

“He’s scared of me,” Golden said, “and he’s revealed that himself by his own actions.”

Seventh-generation Mainer Tim Rich said he thinks the key to victory in the election “is to make sure the working class in the state understand that we have their back and that we’re fighting for them.”

Tim Rich

“There’s a real sense in rural communities all across the state that Democrats, Republicans, it doesn’t matter,” Rich continued, “because they feel they’ve been left behind by the politicians in general.”

Rich owns the Independent Cafe in Bar Harbor. In the past, he’s worked in a health care start-up and as a union organizer. He said he can’t afford health insurance this year because his premium has increased so much. His priorities include expanding Medicare access and developing renewable energy resources as a means of reviving the economy of rural Maine.

“We have incredible opportunity here with solar technology, clustered wind farm technology, and tidal power,” Rich said. “It’s really important we follow that and make that happen.”

The business owner said he also wants to work on reducing the opioid epidemic in Maine.

Another Democratic candidate for Maine’s Second District, Isleboro resident Craig Olson, was sick and could not make it to the forum, said an event organizer. The last candidate, a mail carrier from Dexter named Philip Cleaves Jr., did not attend the event.

About 100 people attended the forum, which was sponsored by the Maine Common Good Coalition. The primary elections for the Democratic Party candidate will be held in June.

David Roza

David Roza

Former reporter, David Roza grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and covered news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.

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