Why, with all of the hurdles independent candidates face, am I excited about Maine’s 1st District seat potentially being held by independent State Rep. Marty Grohman? Because ranked-choice voting and this strong independent challenger completely change the game.

Rep. Chellie Pingree has been considered unbeatable in recent years. But is there a realistic path for Marty to win this race? Yes, there is.

In the last two elections, Rep. Pingree has managed to garner 58 percent of the vote in binary elections, albeit against weak candidates that haven’t inspired much passion.

Pingree’s approval ratings have generally been under the 50 percent mark since her congressional career began. That isn’t to disparage anything Rep. Pingree has done; it’s simply a reflection of our political climate.

Mark Holbrook is again the Republican in the race, and he will likely garner the least amount of votes. Many Republicans don’t embrace his hard-right platform and are going to support Marty.

In this RCV election, Pingree could win in the initial round if she receives more than 50 percent of the vote – an unlikely scenario. It’s hard for any candidate to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race. With an energetic, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, pro-business, Prius driving, partridge hunter like Grohman in the race, it will be nearly impossible.

In the highly likely scenario where Rep. Pingree receives less than 50 percent of the vote, because of the rules of RCV, she would rely on the second-place votes of the last-place contender in order to win. Republican Holbrook, likely the last-place finisher, has supporters who probably will never vote for Pingree.

So Marty has a clear path to victory – which is a good thing.

Maine and Washington, D.C., are both in need of centrist lawmakers like Marty who intend to fix, not fight.

Maine Rep. Owen Casas

District 94

Camden, Rockport and Islesboro

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