The race for an open legislative seat representing parts of Portland and Falmouth pits a player in Maine’s fast-growing craft beer scene against an attorney waging his second bid for legislative office.

The Democrat is Heather Sanborn, a former teacher and lawyer who now co-owns Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood with her husband, Nathan. Her Republican opponent, Jeffrey Langholtz, is an attorney in private practice who is running a low-key campaign on some of the bedrock Republican principles of smaller government, pro-business policies and personal responsibility.

The pair is running to fill the District 43 seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who is running for Senate District 28.

Sanborn, who is running for office for the first time, holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law and formerly taught in Cape Elizabeth schools. Since co-founding Rising Tide in 2010, the 40-year-old has handled marketing and operations at the craft brewery and has served as president of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

Sanborn argues her breadth of experiences – from small-business owner to public school teacher and parent – will prepare her well to represent a district that includes part of Portland’s North Deering neighborhood as well as a portion of Falmouth.

“I have a very strong sense of place and of home here, and a passion for making it the best place that I can,” said Sanborn. “This is part of what motivated me to create jobs and help revitalize the East Bayside. And that is part of what motivates me to serve in Augusta as well.”

Langholtz, 56, earned his law degree from the Vermont Law School and now handles both civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts. Langholtz described himself as a fiscal conservative and is waging his second bid for the Legislature. He challenged Dion for his seat – then known as House District 113 – in 2012 but lost by a vote of 3,503 to 1,685.

Asked why he chose to run for House District 43, Langholtz replied: “To make a contribution. To try to lessen government’s involvement in people’s lives and to support the idea that people need to be more self-sufficient.”

Langholtz said welfare reform is an important issue to him, as is enacting policies that will help businesses grow. He currently runs his own law practice.

Sanborn, meanwhile, said she is most interested in working for improved schools, better access to affordable health care and “finding ways to build Maine’s next economy.” On the latter point, Sanborn believes she and her husband’s experience running Rising Tide Brewing – as well as the experiences of other small brewers in the state – offers an example of how Maine can diversify its economy and even bring back other types of manufacturing. Brewers in Portland and elsewhere have successfully capitalized on the exploding thirst for craft beer with Maine’s strong tourism and foodie culture.

“I think it helps to bring a perspective of optimism and opportunity,” Sanborn said of her experience in the brewing industry. “And that is the perspective that we have to have to get things done. We need to see that Maine has a bright future.”

Sanborn is a publicly funded candidate under Maine’s Clean Elections Act, which limits private contributions and provides state matching funds to House candidates. Her most recent filings with the state showed Sanborn had roughly $600 still available as of Sept. 20 out of the initial $5,500 disbursement in Clean Elections funding.

Langholtz is running as a privately or traditionally financed candidate, although campaign finance filings with the state showed he did not have any contributions or expenditures as of Sept. 20.


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