Marine veteran has lead in Maine congressional primary

Lucas St. Clair
The Associated Press

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — A Marine Corps veteran and state lawmaker had the most first-place votes in a Maine congressional primary Tuesday, but it’ll take additional tabulations to determine if he’s earned the right to challenge two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Jared Golden, of Lewiston, had collected about 50 percent of the vote with about two-thirds of the votes counted early Wednesday. If there’s no majority, then the ballots will be shipped to the state capital for additional tabulations next week under ranked-choice voting.

Lucas St. Clair, the leader in the successful effort to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, was behind Golden. Also in the primary race is rare-book dealer Craig Olson, of Islesboro.

Ranked-choice voting, which was approved in 2016 with a statewide referendum, was in play because there were more than three candidates.

The winner will challenge the uncontested incumbent, Poliquin, who’s seeking a third term to represent the sprawling congressional district in northern and eastern Maine.

Golden joined the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was elected to the Maine House in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats have been coming after Poliquin since he was first elected in 2014 in a congressional district that had been in Democratic hands for two decades.

But the district has become more conservative over the years and supported Republican President Donald Trump, giving him one electoral vote from Maine.

Golden received support from the Serve America PAC, which is run by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, a Marine veteran who encouraged Golden to run.

St. Clair benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Maine Outdoor Alliance, a group run by the best man at his wedding. The group paid for TV ads and mailers promoting St. Clair without mentioning his campaign, prompting criticism of the outside spending.

The winner faces an uphill battle against a Republican who’s capable of raising a significant amount of money. Poliquin has $2.8 million in his re-election campaign coffers.