The race for Maine’s 1st Congressional District seat pits an incumbent from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party against two political newcomers hoping to connect with voters frustrated with the status quo on Capitol Hill.

Unlike the heated election for the open seat in the 2nd District, the campaign to represent Maine’s more densely packed southern district has been a low-key affair that is widely expected to end with the re-election of popular Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

None of the candidates – Pingree, Republican Isaac Misiuk and independent Richard Murphy – has aired television or radio ads. And while Pingree’s two opponents are busy courting voters as Election Day approaches, their campaigns have struggled to build the name recognition and support from outside groups needed to challenge a well-known and better-financed incumbent.

Several independent public opinion polls give the three-term incumbent a commanding lead.

First elected to Congress in 2008, Pingree, of North Haven, won her two subsequent campaigns by comfortable margins. Pingree, 59, also served eight years in the Maine Senate, including as Senate majority leader. The co-owner of North Haven’s Nebo Lodge bed and breakfast who also ran an organic farm, Pingree has been most active in Congress on agricultural issues affecting small farmers.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

A progressive who is considered the Maine delegation’s most liberal member, Pingree was appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2012 to a prized seat on the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for divvying up the federal budget alongside its Senate counterpart.

Earlier this year, Fortune magazine named Pingree No. 2 on its list of the “Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink” because of her focus on sustainable agriculture and the concerns of small farmers. She has successfully sponsored measures to support farm-to-table and farm-to-school lunch table programs and to allow food stamp recipients to use their electronic swipe cards at farmers markets. Pingree has also sought to ease the regulatory burden on small farms and organic operations.

But with conservative Republicans in control of the House, Pingree and other Democrats have been largely unable to pursue their own policy objectives. She has also criticized Republican efforts to cut funding for food stamps and other social programs.

“It’s a frustrating time to be a member of Congress,” Pingree said during a recent WGME-13 debate. “We have enormously challenging issues before us … and I understand people’s sense of frustration. And all that I can promise the voters is that I do my very best to represent the people of Maine. I do my very best to try to work across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats.”

Pingree is pro-abortion rights, is strongly critical of U.S. spending overseas on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, and has advocated for more investment in renewable energy. She voted for the Affordable Care Act but prefers a single-payer health care system.

She faces a young Republican, Misiuk, who has the verbal backing of the state party but has received little financial support, and an independent, Murphy, who is running on an anti-Washington platform while pledging to defend the U.S. Constitution.

Misiuk, a self-described conservative who put his studies at the University of Southern Maine on hold to campaign, said he joined the race for the 1st District in order to end what he describes as “taxation without representation” for younger generations. The Gorham resident said he will represent Maine voters of all ages if elected, and he frequently talks about the need to protect Social Security, fulfill promises to veterans and trim government spending.

But Misiuk said he is frequently left with one question when reviewing congressional attempts to solve pressing problems.

“Who is going to pay for it?” Misiuk said in June during an event re-launching his campaign after the primary. “And the answer is always the same: the youth. If Congress is going to stick us with the bill, we at least deserve a seat at the table.”

At joint events with the three contenders, Misiuk, 25, was the only candidate to say he believes the U.S. may need to commit ground combat forces with partner nations to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. On the issue of the Affordable Care Act, Misiuk criticized the law but said the window for repeal has closed and that efforts need to focus on improving the law.

He serves as co-chairman of the Cumberland County Young Republicans but has not held political office before.

Murphy, an independent whose conservative values mirror many of those in the tea party movement, has sought to set himself apart as the outsider who will not be beholden to anyone but Maine voters – and even drew up a “guaranty agreement” pledging to resign if voters believe he has broken his oath.

A former Republican, Murphy said he switched to unenrolled or independent after growing weary of what he sees as the politics of self-interest in Washington.

“I was frustrated with the way both of the parties didn’t seem to be doing much for the people they were supposed to be serving,” Murphy said. “They bicker, they go back and forth over issues and waste time. They don’t legislate.”

Murphy, 36, of Springvale, is a twice-deployed active member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard who argues that the U.S. needs to stop sending troops and money overseas to try to solve historic problems in regions such as the Middle East.

He has worked in civil engineering, contracting and real estate but said he was forced to take jobs overseas – in South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia – to support his family back in Maine. During a recent forum for the homeless at Portland’s Preble Street Resource Center, he told one upset woman, “I am so close to where you are coming from.”

The independent said the experiences opened his eyes to how things are done elsewhere but also to what he believes is an erosion of freedoms in the U.S. His 14-point “oath to voters” includes pledges to support the U.S. Constitution, defend state sovereignty, push for minimal government involvement, and support a flat-tax code.

The 2014 race for the 1st Congressional District began early, with both Misiuk and Murphy announcing their candidacies over a year ago. But with Election Day roughly two weeks away, the already low-key race is being further overshadowed by the intense, big-money competitions for governor and the larger, less politically predictable 2nd District.

Pingree held a large lead over Misiuk, 66 percent to 13 percent, in a mid-September poll conducted for the Press Herald by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, with 17 percent undecided. While Murphy did not receive any support in that poll, two October surveys taken after the first televised debate showed him receiving roughly 10 percent of the vote in each poll while Misiuk received 8.7 percent and 19 percent. Pingree still polled at more than 50 percent in those polls, conducted by Pan Atlantic SMS Group and Critical Insights.

“There is no surprise here,” said Brian Duff, a University of New England political scientist who noted that Pingree benefits from the fact that congressional incumbents are hard to unseat. “You have a liberal Democrat in a pretty liberal district and not a lot of extra money is getting pumped in.”

Three leading political organizations that closely track congressional races nationwide – Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report – all rate the race as a “safe” seat for Pingree.

The three candidates have appeared together three times: at two televised debates and at a forum for Portland’s homeless population.

Pingree has done some “retail politics,” such as walking streets and shaking hands, but has not held major campaign events or fundraisers. Although Misiuk staged a two-day bus tour of the district this past weekend, both he and Murphy have focused on attending events, knocking on doors and placing a limited number of signs around the district.

Misiuk reported raising just over $20,000 for his campaign through Sept. 30 – roughly 5 percent of the $382,800 raised by Pingree during the election cycle despite the fact that the Democrat has not been aggressively seeking donations or campaigning. Murphy raised $8,370 through the end of September, according to reports on file with the Federal Election Commission.

During the 2012 election, the 22 challengers who defeated an incumbent House member spent, on average, more than $2 million on their campaigns, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. The odds of defeating an incumbent while spending less than $1 million that year were 293-to-2.

Asked about fundraising, Murphy said he was warned not to run unless he could raise $500,000. He said the warning didn’t discourage him “and I’m getting my name out there.”

Misiuk said he has seen the polls but remains optimistic, adding that “the only poll that counts is Nov. 4th.”