After winning Maine’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District by a narrow margin two years ago, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden appeared Tuesday to have secured a second term — with a bit more breathing room.

Based on preliminary results, the Lewiston Democrat likely defeated Republican challenger Dale Crafts.

With about two-thirds of the district’s 415 precincts reporting results before the Sun Journal’s press deadline early Wednesday, Golden’s numbers, which roughly matched Crafts’ showing in rural towns, showed he was virtually assured of victory once votes from the Democratic strongholds of Bangor and his hometown of Lewiston are counted.

But neither Golden nor Crafts spoke about the results before deadline as each waited to see the outcomes in more places.

Golden ran well ahead of his party’s U.S. Senate and presidential nominees in nearly all the towns whose numbers came in early.

For example, in Chesterville, a town in Franklin County where 811 people voted, Golden snagged 409 votes, 13 more than Crafts.

In the same town, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins creamed Democrat Sara Gideon 494 to 245, and President Donald Trump crushed Democrat Joe Biden 460 to 314.

In nearby Kingfied, where Collins and Trump also won easily, Golden cruised to an even bigger victory over Crafts 506 to 370. That was 99 more votes than Biden collected in the same small town.

Screen shot of U.S. Rep. Jared Golden at Maine Public’s 2nd District congressional debate last month in Augusta.

Golden, a 38-year-old combat veteran, sought during his first term to separate himself from his party’s congressional leadership and some of the policies pushed by progressives. He said he put the needs of ordinary Mainers ahead of partisan scorekeeping.

Crafts, 61, a former state legislator who won a three-way primary in July, said voters faced a choice between “the bondage of socialism” or the liberty enshrined in America’s founding documents.

He said at the polls in Lisbon on Tuesday he expected “a big red wave” that would sweep him into office.

Golden said he never counted on a blue wave in 2018, when he defeated two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and did not assume one would help him out this year either.

He said he has sought to help constituents with real-world problems and tried to steer clear of the many unnecessary controversies that so frequently disrupt the workings of government in Washington.

Crafts, a businessman who had the backing of Trump and former Gov. Paul LePage, said Tuesday he ran the campaign he sought — fiscally conservative and focused on turning out Republican voters.

He said the strangest moment came last March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. His campaign team watched a full calendar of events “evaporate in 24 hours,” Crafts said.

Crafts said that when he won the primary in July, defeating two GOP challengers for the nomination, he had almost no money left in his campaign coffers, while Golden had more than $2 million on hand.

But in the end, he said, thanks to efficient use of resources, he had enough to make a serious race.

“We exceeded our goals,” Crafts said, from knocking on doors to advertising.

Crafts said he put nearly 50,000 miles on his new pickup. “My truck is wearing out,” he said.

Crafts said he did everything he could. “I leave the results in God’s hands.”

Win or lose, he added, “I’ll sleep like a baby.”


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