Golden has experience, and heart, for Congress

It’s a time for choosing. For Democrats, and unenrolled voters who may reregister to vote in the Democratic primary, it’s time to decide who they want to run against two-term incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

All the Democratic candidates oppose Poliquin’s votes cutting health care, supporting tax policies benefiting the wealthy and deregulating financial institutions. They all say they’ll be more accessible than Poliquin, who is known for refusing to state his positions publicly, ducking reporters and limiting constituents’ access to his Bangor office.

So when it’s time to vote on June 12, what should determine your pick?

For me, it comes down to how the person’s background fits with the job and the extent to which each has the skills to run an effective campaign and to serve.

Being in Congress is like drinking through a fire hose, with issues and events coming fast and furious. Constituents and lobbyists want to be heard. Your committees demand attention as you conduct oversight, listen to expert testimony and craft legislation.

Thus I want to elect someone who can balance many different things, draw from multiple experts and experiences, and really understand the struggles of Maine people. That’s why I support him and my family has donated to his campaign.

So when I look at the candidates who are running, my choice is Jared Golden. Golden knows how to craft legislation and to pass it. He knows how to work with a coalition in a legislative body, having done it as a staffer in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the state Legislature.

Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden.
Troy Bennett | BDN

In his mid-30s, Golden is and has been as a leader in the Marines and in the Maine Legislature. Having come from the small town of Leeds and now representing part of Lewiston, he’s also in touch with everyday Mainers.

A soft-spoken man with flashes of intensity, Golden has done quite a lot in his relatively few years in elected office. Somehow he doesn’t talk about that as much as he could, but I will.

This year, Golden passed LD 1694, a law aimed at reducing youth suicide that came about because he listened to constituent Matt Graham, whose daughter tragically took her own life. Before it was adopted, only a quarter of Maine schools had evidence-based procedures to prevent suicide. Now all must. After its passage, Golden said, “I am proud to work with the Graham family on this important legislation as we continue to try to prevent youth suicide. We need to continue to update our practices and policies to make sure we are doing all we can to reduce these tragedies.”

In 2017, the Legislature voted for Golden’s bill on veterans’ mental health care, LD 1231 with supermajorities, enabling it to go into effect immediately. Speaking with great empathy about the bill, Golden said, “Some things experienced in war stick with you. . . It’s all with you for the rest of your life and that’s OK. Many of us carry those burdens on our own. But for those who need more than that, we don’t judge at all. . . All I care about is how can we help them get better for tomorrow so they can move on to live the happy, successful life they fought to preserve for the rest of us.”

Golden has also passed legislation, LD 848, helping civilian emergency responders get help for post-traumatic stress.

Using a smart approach to making policy, Golden first got a law passed early in his first term to study gaps in veterans’ services and then used findings that came out of that analysis to propose and pass laws addressing those needs in education, transportation, health care and transitioning to civilian jobs. After follow-up legislation, including a comprehensive veterans bill (LD 1612), was adopted, the legislative chairperson for the Mid-Coast Veterans Council called it “a good week for veterans.”

The other candidates are fine people but don’t have these successes or range of experiences. Craig Olson served in municipal government. Lucas St. Clair’s involvement with government entails lobbying the federal government regarding gifting his family’s land holdings for a national monument.

Golden has also run a campaign with integrity, refusing contributions from corporate PACs, backing a campaign finance reform agenda, and holding town hall meetings throughout the district. He can hit the ground running after the primary and listen to and serve his constituents in Congress.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.