U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree won a fifth term representing Maine’s 1st District in Congress on Tuesday after a low-key race against Republican challenger Mark Holbrook.

Pingree, a Democrat, was leading Holbrook 58 percent to 42 percent with 82 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial election returns.

The incumbent Democrat had been widely expected to defeat Holbrook, a lesser-known political newcomer who campaigned on a conservative platform in Maine’s left-leaning southern district.

Speaking to a crowd of Democrats in Portland shortly before 10 p.m., Pingree thanked her supporters but said there is considerable work to be done to bring the country back together after the election.

“We will only succeed as a country if we are willing to compromise,” Pingree said. “The stakes are very high. There is so much uncertainty. It is more important than ever to have people to stand up and fight for what we believe in.”

A progressive Democrat, Pingree was first elected to Congress in 2008 after eight years in the Maine Senate and three years heading the national progressive group Common Cause. She has been vocal in Congress on food and agricultural issues, especially those that she believes will help smaller-scale or organic farms as well as farmer’s markets. Pingree currently sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and therefore has a voice in funding decisions dealing with farm and natural resources issues.

The North Haven resident has run an inn, a restaurant and an organic farm on the island.

Holbrook is psychologist and licensed counselor who spent more than a decade in law enforcement. At his Brunswick counseling practice, Holbrook works primarily with law enforcement officers, veterans and families.

Running on a conservative platform focused on his status as a political outsider, Holbrook pledged to “be the ‘tip of the spear’ aiming Maine values and common sense at Washington.” He accused Pingree of being “missing in action” in representing Maine’s interests in Washington.

But his conservative message did not resonate as well in Maine’s left-leaning 1st District, and his campaign failed to garner significant amounts of attention or money. The 1st District campaign was also overshadowed by the heated 2nd District race that drew national interest.

Holbrook had raised just shy of $100,000 for his campaign and had $11,000 in “cash on hand” as of the last campaign filing with the Federal Election Commission. Pingree had raised more than $575,000 – on top of the $215,000 she had at the beginning of the campaign cycle – and was still sitting on $547,000 as of mid-October.

While Holbrook made a modest advertising “buy” with southern Maine stations in the latter weeks of the campaign, Pingree did not air any television ads during the 2016 campaign. And some of her highest-profile appearances this fall were actually get-out-the-vote events for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

That stands in stark contrast to the 2nd District race between Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain, which drew the interest of the national parties. The two campaigns and organizations on either side aired more than 21,700 television ads on the race – more than any other House race across the nation, according to ad trackers with the Wesleyan Media Project.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

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