By John Celock
A 35-year-old Maine state legislator and Marine Corps veteran has announced a bid to challenge the only Republican holding a congressional seat in New England.
State Rep. Jared Golden (D) Thursday kicked off a bid against U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the state’s second district. Golden painted a picture of a congressman and a Congress that is not serving the residents of Maine.
“After coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq I learned that you can’t say the same about our leaders in Washington,” Golden said in a video. “Down there they follow the will of the special interests and not us.”
Golden said that Poliquin’s support for changes to Obamacare would have adverse effects on Maine, including on hospitals and small towns around the state. He said that he wanted to work to create jobs in the state, along with addressing the opioid crisis.
Golden also pointed to a need to address trade deals that he said have hurt Maine business and direct more funding towards infrastructure.
Golden highlighted his experience in the Marines in the video.
“I’ll never forget what it was like running across the fields and up the ridge line to the sound of gunfire. On the other side of that ridge three of our Marines were in a firefight,” he said. “We were racing to get there faster because they needed us to have their backs. We knew they’d do the same for us. That’s just what Marines do.”
A two-term member of the state House of Representatives, Golden currently serves as the chairman of the House Elections Committee and chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Joint Rules. He enters what is likely to be a competitive race against Poliquin and a competitive election year in Maine.
Maine politics in 2018 is likely to be dominated by the second district congressional race and an open gubernatorial battle to succeed term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R). The gubernatorial race has attracted multiple Democrats with the Republican field frozen until U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R), announces whether she will seek the governor’s mansion. LePage has ruled out a bid to challenge U.S. Angus King (I) next year. Maine’s strong third party system could make several races multi-candidate fields.
Golden is viewed as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Poliquin.
Poliquin, a former investment banker, was first elected to Congress in 2014 and currently serves on the Financial Services Committee. He previously lost bids for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2012. Poliquin also served a two-year term as state treasurer.
Poliquin frequently cites his life story as shaping his approach to politics. In 1992, Poliquin’s wife, Jane, drowned while swimming in Puerto Rico, leaving Poliquin as a single father to the couple’s 16-month-old son.
In his announcement Golden said that he believes that Maine has good days ahead of it.
“We’ll come back because the tough times have made us stronger,” he said.