A leading critic of the hydropower transmission line through western Maine has leaped into the Republican primary field in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Elizabeth Caruso Submitted photo

Elizabeth Caruso, the top elected official in tiny Caratunk in Somerset County, filed paperwork Friday to enter the increasingly crowded GOP contest for the chance to take on two-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat. Golden is among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents because his sprawling district leans Republican.

Caruso, who could not be reached, has been the first selectman of her 66-person town since 2006 and has used the position in recent years to fight the proposed electrical transmission line under construction between Quebec and Lewiston.

Also in the running to take on Golden are ex-U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, state Rep. Mike Perkins of Oakland and Sean Joyce of Newburgh. A primary to choose the party’s standard bearer will likely take place in June. Party leaders in Washington have thrown their support behind Poliquin, who held the seat until Golden defeated him in 2018.

Former state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton said that while he remains a solid Golden supporter — “he is a moderate voice down there and a voice of reason” — he likes Caruso.

“Liz is brilliant. I really enjoyed working with her” against the corridor project, he said, because she’s articulate, bright and nice. Saviello said, though, she ought to run for a state House seat first to learn how the system works before taking aim at Congress.

Caruso has been among those trying to block the $1 billion project to bring hydropower to the New England grid through a new corridor that includes a new section through the woods between Lake Megantic in Quebec to The Forks in western Maine.

In a July letter to the editor of the Mount Desert Islander, Caruso said the New England Clean Energy Connect project is “not green, not clean and not beneficial to Maine’s citizens or lands” as she urged voters “to reject this green-energy scam and save Maine.”

Voters this month overwhelmingly backed a statewide referendum to stop the project but it is unclear whether the measure will succeed in its bid to pull the plug on the NECEC endeavor pushed by Central Maine Power Co. and its parent company Avangrid.

Caruso, an industrial engineer by training, moved from Connecticut to “this amazing beautiful and peaceful area” of Caratunk in 1994, according to testimony she submitted against the project.

Caruso, a 1991 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has worked as an engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft and as a Maine Registered Whitewater Guide. At one point she served as the first executive director of The Forks Area Chamber of Commerce, which she helped create.

In testimony against the NECEC project, she said she is an outdoor enthusiast who has “spent countless hours navigating the Kennebec, Dead and Penobscot rivers, boating on the area’s lake and ponds, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking the area’s mountains and trails, snowmobiling, ATV-ing and fishing.”

She said she has been a full-time home-schooling mother since 2009 and that her husband and sons “provide our family’s organic grass-fed meat every year by hunting the area’s deer and moose.”

Her husband, Gregory, is a Maine Master Guide whose livelihood is based entirely on the tourist trade in her region.


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