Maine’s 2nd District congressman, Democrat Jared Golden, broke ranks with party members on Sunday, voting for a U.S. senator to become the next speaker of the House.

By voting for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Iraq War veteran, Golden, who is also a veteran, essentially voted against incumbent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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

His vote represented a defection that could have proved costly to Democrats. The Associated Press reported that Pelosi was re-elected speaker, narrowly defeating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., by a margin of 216-209. Golden was among five Democrats in the House who did not vote for Pelosi.

Golden explained his position in a statement that he posted on Facebook and on Twitter. He said he believed the House of Representatives needs new leadership, a sentiment that his constituents expressed during his 2020 re-election campaign.

“Since I first ran for office in 2018, I have consistently called for both new leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and for the development of a new generation of leaders for our nation,” Golden said.

“The pressures on our democracy have always been great, but in this generation they have nearly boiled over. Climate change, economic disruption, and growing inequality are threatening to destroy the working middle class in America,” he said. “Corporations, the wealthy, and well connected elites hold an outsized and growing power over our political system and government, and the influence of money in politics has been growing, not decreasing.”

Golden said the country cannot expect that the same leaders who brought the United States to this point in history can turn around and lead in a different direction.

The U.S. Constitution does not require the speaker of the House to be a member of the House. The 80-year-old Pelosi will be serving her fourth term as speaker.

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