As the only Democrat to cast a vote against the Build Back Better Act on Friday, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden drew sharp rebukes from some of his Democratic allies and supporters in Maine.

State Rep. Genevieve McDonald, a Democrat from Stonington, called him “a disappointment” in a Tweet.”

“You’ve lost my support,” she added.

Golden, a Lewiston Democrat in Maine’s 2nd District, faces one of the toughest battles in the country to win election to a third term next year in a district that backed Donald Trump for president last year.

So far, there are four Republicans vying to challenge him, including Bruce Poliquin, the former two-term U.S. House member Golden defeated in 2018 to claim the seat for his party.

Golden doesn’t have a primary challenger, but progressives in the sprawling, mostly rural district have muttered about finding one for months as they’ve watched Golden take repeated stands against the wishes of House leaders from his party.

Mary Smith, a member of Indivisible Bangor, said Friday that Golden “abandoned his commitment to Maine’s future the moment he voted no on Biden’s Build Back Better plan. This plan was a critical piece of legislation that would have provided relief to the children of Maine, one third of whom are economically disadvantaged and lack access to early childhood education. This is unfathomable, and constituents see through Rep. Golden’s statements and failed attempts to justify this cruel decision.”

The speaker of the Maine House, Rep. Ryan Fecteau, a Biddeford Democrat, tweeted Friday, “It’s hard to believe any member of Congress would vote against #BuildBackBetterAct. Haven’t we all heard loud & clear from Americans of all political stripes that they are sick & tired of being at the back of the line to funding wars, nation building, & bailing out the wealthy?”

Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance, issued a statement Friday that called House passage of the bill “a historic win for Mainers” and criticized Golden’s position on it.

“Unfortunately, in spite of countless calls and office visits from faith leaders, veterans and small business owners in his district, Rep. Jared Golden voted against a bill Maine families desperately need — and one that has the support of the majority of his constituents,” she said. “Golden has said he wanted this bill to be better, but his constituents want better from him. We hope that moving forward, Rep. Golden will focus on delivering for Mainers and our families and communities, rather than trying to slow progress that’s already overdue.”

One of Golden’s reasons for not supporting the bill was the inclusion of large tax breaks for the wealthy.

Halsted hailed Maine’s senior House member, the 1st District’s Rep. Chellie Pingree, “for her tireless championing of Build Back Better and her vote for it today. She’s doing the right thing by the people of Maine.”

Pingree, who favored the measure, said after its passage that it is “the most beneficial bill for working families enacted since The New Deal. The bill will prepare the nation for the next century through unprecedented investments in climate-smart programs and the establishment of a safety net that supports the needs of Americans from birth into old age.”

Some say Golden’s latest refusal to follow the party line may have gone too far for liberals to tolerate, though how much that matters in his district is unclear.

“Jared Golden will surely feel the tiny fists of popularist rage,” tweeted Jason Linkins, a deputy editor of The New Republic.

Maine’s Jared Golden cast the only Democratic vote against the Build Back Better Act on Friday. C-Span

Closer to home, Dean Staffieri, president of the Maine Service Employees Association, issued a statement hailing Pingree for supporting the measure he said would provide desperately needed support for Maine families.

He expressed “real disappointment and sadness” that Golden chose “to vote the wrong way once again,” pointing out that the lawmaker had also opposed the American Rescue Plan last spring.

Staffieri said Golden “is missing an enormous opportunity to help workers and families and to protect Maine’s way of life for future generations.”

But others looked at Golden’s stance through a different lens.

Commentator Matthew Yglesias, a co-founder of Vox, said that “one thing I really like and respect about Golden is that unlike a lot of members in tough races, he is going all-in on trying to mirror his constituents and win reelection rather than optimizing for lobbying gigs if he loses.”

Andrew Mahaleris, a Republican Party spokesman, said on Twitter that Golden voted against the bill because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California didn’t need his vote.

“There’s a clear pattern: Golden only votes against Pelosi when his vote doesn’t matter in the final tally,” Mahaleris said on Twitter.

But Poliquin passed up a chance on WGAN radio Friday to criticize Golden’s position. He did, however, call the bill itself “a massive expansion of government spending and welfare” that should not be passed.

Golden said one of the major problems with the bill is that it includes “a $280 billion tax giveaway to millionaires” by allowing property owners with large property tax bills to deduct more of their payments on federal tax forms, a provision sought by lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York and California. It’s a provision that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has also denounced.

Lisa Savage, a longtime Green Party activist who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year as an independent, said on WGAN radio Friday that she agreed with Golden’s position, in part because she believes “corporate Democrats” added a bunch of tax breaks for the wealthy and “gutted many of the things I cared about.”

Even so, she said, Golden’s stance “is going to really anger a lot of my Democratic friends.”

During an all-night address that ended early Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cited Golden’s position as part of a litany of reasons for rejecting the bill.

“It’s not just Republicans who warn you,” McCarthy said before adding “even Jared Golden” criticized the tax break. He said that if people had more time to absorb what’s in the bill, “more people and organizations on the Democratic side” might be “up in arms about this.”

Emmie Theberge, federal director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said her organization “is disappointed that Congressman Golden voted against the bill, especially given the climate impacts bearing down on our state and all the relief the bill’s provisions will provide to Maine people, our economy, and environment.”

“We understand that he had concerns about the current version, but when the House has another opportunity to vote on this legislation, we urge Congressman Golden to reconsider his vote and support the Build Back Better Act,” Theberge said in a prepared statement.

While Golden voted against the measure Friday, he left the door wide open to vote in its favor next month if the Senate approves the bill, likely with changes.

“As much as the public and media have talked about reconciliation over the past few months, the legislative process is not yet complete,” Golden said. “I will continue to stay at the table and negotiate for the best deal possible until the very last opportunity.”

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