Maine police union backs Golden, LePage in this year's election

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Jul. 25—Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden's reelection bid got an unexpected boost when the Maine Fraternal Order of Police issued a surprise endorsement this month for his bid to secure a third term in the tightly contested 2nd District congressional race.

The conservative-leaning group that represents about 850 police officers in the state said Golden has long supported law enforcement.

The police group also endorsed Republican Paul LePage, a former two-term governor who is hoping to reclaim his old job by ousting Democrat Janet Mills from the Blaine House in the Nov. 8 general election.

Its decision to support Golden rather than GOP contender Bruce Poliquin, a former two-term congressman from Orrington, came as a surprise given the police group's tendency to back Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in her tough 2020 reelection fight.

The 2nd District race also includes independent Tiffany Bond, a lawyer from Portland who snagged 6% of the overall tally in 2018 when Golden defeated Poliquin to take the seat in the nation's first federal ranked-choice voting election.

Most political observers rate this year's race as a tossup.

Pollster FiveThirtyEight, though, gives Golden a slight edge. It says he has a 52% chance of winning the race. Poliquin, it says, has a 48% chance. It gives Bond less than a 1% chance of coming out on top.

Poliquin said Monday the police group "endorses people of both political parties and sometimes gets it right, but with Jared Golden they had the wool pulled over their eyes."

Bond said she is disappointed the Maine police lodge "would exclude the only woman in the race from their process entirely, but it's been pretty clear this year that many groups and organizations don't acknowledge women, minorities, LGBTQIA+, the disabled, those struggling with income insecurity, and other vulnerable groups. It's time for leadership that does. Our communities cannot thrive without a society that is there for all of us."

Matt Nadeau, president of the Maine Fraternal Order of Police, said that Golden "has been a true friend of Maine law enforcement' since he worked on the staff of the Senate Homeland Security Committee a decade ago.

He said Golden "has been a leader on issues important to our members" as both a state legislator and a member of the U.S. House.

"While some have called for reducing resources necessary for us to perform our job, Congressman Golden has pushed back and fought for additional funding, staffing, and the protective measures we so desperately need," Nadeau said.

Golden said he thinks "lawmakers have a responsibility to ensure police officers get the resources, training and equipment they need to protect our communities, and I've worked hard to live up to that responsibility."

"At a time when too many politicians and others disparage all law enforcement officers because of the wrongful actions of a few, these men and women continue to put their lives on the line for all of us," Golden said. "I've got their backs, I believe we need them now more than ever, and I appreciate their service."

Poliquin began his campaign last year denouncing "liberals" with "an agenda of defunding law enforcement, of opposing our police who put their lives on the line to protect us every day."

He said Monday that Golden has "accepted the endorsement of radical organizations promoting a defund the police ideology."

But Golden was one of two House Democrats to oppose the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and cosponsored the Protect and Serve Act that aimed to increase penalties for those targeting police officers with violence.

At the time, Nadeau said the bill pushed by Golden "is exactly what's needed by today's law enforcement officers" and shows "we are appreciated and valued."

Golden is also a cosponsor of the 'Defund Cities that Defund the Police' Act that its sponsors said "would prevent jurisdictions that defund the police from receiving certain federal grants, preventing specific federal taxpayer dollars from bankrolling jurisdictions that intentionally make their communities less safe."

Republicans have sought to target Golden on the issue anyway.

The National Republican Congressional Committee tweeted in May that Maine voters "will never believe" that Golden "can stand up to the defund the police movement."

It pointed to his refusal to sign a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on her to bring a measure to the House floor to increase police funding as evidence of its stance.

Last week, the NRCC assailed Golden for accepting $1,000 for his campaign from the NARAL Pro-Choice America political action committee, which exists to oppose restrictions on abortion but has indicated support for efforts to shift police funding.

NRCC, which strongly supports Poliquin, said Golden's "rhetoric on funding law enforcement is nothing but political cover."

"Jared Golden's actions speak louder than words and that's bad news for Maine's law enforcement community," said NRCC spokesperson Samantha Bullock.

Bu Nadeau said, "We are pleased to announce our full support and ask all who 'Back The Blue' to return Congressman Golden to the U.S. House of Representative this November."