Republican Susan Abercrombie is challenging Democratic Rep. Benjamin Collings in his bid for re-election to the District 42 seat in the Maine House of Representatives.

It’s a rematch of the 2016 race for the seat representing East Deering and some Back Cove neighborhoods in Portland. Collings, 42, won with 60 percent of the vote, garnering 1,000 more votes than Abercrombie, 73.

Abercrombie – the only Republican running in the Democratic stronghold of Portland who was willing to be interviewed this year – seems to be a reluctant warrior.

“I’m running for office because somebody needs to,” Abercrombie said. “I would prefer we had a more energetic young Republican to run in my district, but we don’t, so we’ve got me.”

While Abercrombie would like to limit government, Collings said he would look for ways to generate more revenue for state and local governments to adequately fund schools and needed infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding roads.

Collings said he would begin by rolling back Gov. Paul LePage’s income tax cuts from 2011 and taking another look at implementing the voter-approved surcharge on higher incomes so the state can begin funding 55 percent of public education costs. He also would work to ensure that communities can keep more of the sales and income taxes generated in their communities, an agreement known as revenue-sharing.

State-level cuts have put pressure on municipalities to either eliminate programs or increase property taxes, Collings said.

“I would really want to focus on revenues,” Collings said. “We need to have the courage to work together in a nonpartisan way to find revenue.”

If elected, Collings said he hopes to become the Democratic whip – a position that ensures party unity previously held by Jared Golden, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the 2nd Congressional District. But Collings also said his upbringing in Fort Kent has helped him build relationships with Republicans and rural legislators.

Abercrombie said she would work to ensure that only U.S. citizens can vote. Portland has considered allowing all of its residents to vote, regardless of citizenship. But it’s widely believed that a change in state law would be needed for that to happen.

Abercrombie would also like the citizen referendum process to require that only Maine residents, rather than people from out of state, can collect signatures to get a citizen referendum on the ballot, and require that a certain percentage of signatures be collected either in each county or each congressional district.

She also would oppose any gun-control legislation. “I am a firm defender of the right to bear arms,” said Abercrombie, noting she has a 9mm handgun that she uses for target practice.

The prospect of having a new governor has given Collings more hope than he’s had in the previous two years.

“I’m optimistic that with new leadership in Augusta we can accomplish the things that need to be accomplished,” he said.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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