It’s long been a truism of Maine political life that once you get elected to a top-level office, you can likely be re-elected to that post as long as you want to run or term limits permit.

Recent exceptions are rare: U.S. Rep. James Longley Jr., who was elected to Congress in 1994, served only one term before being defeated by Tom Allen; and Sen. Margaret Chase Smith tried to nonchalant her way into a fifth term in 1972 but lost to William Hathaway, who himself was defeated by William S. Cohen in 1978.

Beyond that, it’s hard to find a member of Congress, senator or governor who didn’t remain in office when seeking it.

If current polls are to be believed, the same will hold true in both of Maine’s congressional races this year. 2nd District Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin took his shot when Michael Michaud dropped out to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent Paul LePage for governor, and leads in recent polling against a rerun by his 2014 opponent, Emily Cain.

And Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, seeking her fifth term in the 1st District, is polling well ahead of her Republican opponent, Mark Holbrook of Brunswick.

Holbrook, however, is not discouraged. He said in an interview this week that one of the reasons he was running was to uphold the Founders’ ideal of citizen lawmakers, which he sees as having been long superseded in Congress by people who, once elected, put down anchors in Washington and end up seeming to owe more loyalty to their colleagues and the system than they do to folks back home.


Wonder where he could have gotten that idea?

Anyway, Holbrook, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology (what better field for a politician these days?) and a resume that runs from police officer to licensed ship captain to criminal justice instructor to lobsterman, thinks he’s the one to yank the well-rooted Pingree from her D.C. digs.

While there’s no question the 1st District is more liberal than the 2nd (where Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton in recent polls), Holbrook thinks Pingree is still far more left-wing than most of the people she represents.

“Her real constituency is a minority even in southern Maine,” he says, claiming she supports abortion without any restrictions, “open borders” that would allow anyone to enter this country without screening, and banning a wide variety of firearms, thus “not only attacking our Second Amendment rights but effectively putting two Maine gun manufacturers and their employees out of business.”

Further, he says she supported “crony capitalism” by writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy in 2010 in support of a loan for a wind project in which Sen. Angus King was then an investor.

“Liberals helped ban billboards here in the 1960s,” he says. “How can they even stand to look at windmills on top of a beautiful Maine mountain?”


Still, those positions are pretty mainstream for the left these days, as unpopular as they are in other circles. And the cause of “fighting fossil fuels” extends not only to mechanizing once-pristine “viewscapes” but also to dicing and incinerating a wide variety of avian wildlife. What’s a few hundred mangled eagles compared to that?

But merely opposing someone is one thing. What does Holbrook have in mind should he win?

“We need to repeal Obamacare, which is rapidly failing.”

True dat, and some people think it was designed to collapse to pave the way for a fully socialized system, which Holbrook thinks is likely.

What can be done instead? “Give people tax-favored health savings accounts and catastrophic care insurance, and you’ll have a start on a good replacement,” he said.

Meanwhile, because he says he’s sensitive to the charge that restricting immigration from some Muslim nations is “unfair,” he wants to put a temporary stay on all immigration “until we can sort things out at home.”


And he says he would become “an open cheerleader for jobs” in Maine, personally lobbying national business leaders for siting or expanding their operations here.

Yet, he criticizes many in Congress, including members of his own party, for being too rigid in dealing with others, saying he would try to “persuade rather than intimidate” other members.

It doesn’t seem as if there is any doubt Holbook offers a distinct alternative to his opponent’s politics.

There is this, too, in his defense: If the House, and potentially the Senate, remain in Republican hands, who will have more influence on bills that could make a difference in Mainers’ lives – a member of the minority, huddled on the back benches, or a member of the majority?

Holbrook thinks the latter, but he’s got a well-entrenched obstacle in his way. Still, with another recent poll showing Donald Trump in a virtual statewide tie with Hillary Clinton in a four-way race, who knows what will happen Nov. 8?

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

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