Sep. 22—Praising U.S. Rep. Jared Golden for his support for gun rights, the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine gave the two-term Democrat an A+ rating — a touch higher than the grade awarded to his Republican challenger.
The 8,000-member sportsman's group said in its new Election Guide that Golden "has taken many tough votes, and we appreciate his courage."
The group praised Republican Bruce Poliquin as well, awarding him an A grade, and told members, "We are lucky to have two candidates running for the Second District who have great records, and who have staunchly supported the Second Amendment."
The gun rights and safety group did not mention the third candidate in the Nov. 8 election in the sprawling, rural district, Tiffany Bond.
Golden defeated Poliquin in 2018 to win the seat he has held since.
In the gubernatorial race, the group gave incumbent Democrat Janet Mills an A+ as well — an improvement from 2018 when they awarded her opponent a higher grade than her. Republican Paul LePage wound up this year with an incomplete grade from the group because he left seven of its questions unanswered or mentioned he was undecided on his stance.
The group does not make endorsements, but its grades are considered important for voters who are eager to protect what they see as gun rights.
The alliance's decision to rank Golden so highly follows on the heels of the National Rifle Association's recent choice to endorse no one in the congressional race despite awarding Poliquin an A and Golden a B.
In its discussion of the 2nd District race, the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine said Golden "is emerging as a maverick within his caucus, voting against seating the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and on many occasions voting against the majority of his fellow Democrats, especially on gun control legislation and spending bills."
"Bucking the caucus is often more painful, and solicits more virulent backlash, than voting against the other party," the alliance said. "There is a sense from some fringe partisans that there is a certain loyalty to the party, and straying is some sort of betrayal."
"Jared Golden has figured out that he works for all the citizens of the Second District. Imagine that; representing all the people, not just the partisans! How refreshing!" the group said.
But the alliance has no problem with Poliquin.
"No one in Congress worked harder than Bruce Poliquin" during his four years in the U.S. House, it said, "and we have come to trust his leadership on the issues important to the outdoor community. "
Golden said in a prepared statement that he is "honored and humbled to receive top rankings from the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine."
He called it "particularly meaningful to receive such strong support" from the group because "these are the Maine sportsmen who live and hunt in our communities across the 2nd District. I've been proud to work with the organization to support the rights of law-abiding citizens and I will continue to stand up for those rights alongside SAM as long as I'm in Congress."
In the 1st District race, Republican challenger Ed Thelander got an A from the alliance while Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree scored a D.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation also graded members of Congress recently. It gave Golden an A+ as well. No other Democrat got more than a C. It scored Pingree with an F.