- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Navy veteran Ande Smith and psychologist Mark Holbrook believe they have what it takes to beat four-term Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree. But first the Republicans have to battle each other.

They will face off on the June 14 primary ballot in Maine’s 1st Congressional District, which covers the southwestern corner of the state and includes Portland and Augusta and hasn’t elected a Republican in more than 20 years.

Smith, also a small business owner, is already looking past Holbrook by attacking Pingree in cartoon attack ads, claiming she’s lazy and out of touch.

“I’ve actually built a campaign that can beat Chellie Pingree,” Smith said. “Mark Holbrook has no campaign team, no real fundraising.”

Smith said he has gotten the endorsement of 25 sitting Maine legislators and outraised Pingree in individual contributions from January to March.

Still, Smith knows he has an uphill battle. He has a long way to go to match Pingree’s $380,000 campaign war chest and has spent thousands on his three paid staffers and on reimbursing himself for printing materials.

Holbrook, who supports a ban on refugees and a wall from the “Gulf of California to the Gulf of Mexico,” said he’ll send out his 140-plus volunteers door to door to drum up support.

“No one is going to outspend her,” said Holbrook, a counselor with a doctorate in clinical psychology. “My plan is to outwork her.”

While Holbrook has reported raising $22,656 since last April, Smith - who started fundraising in January - has raised $111,279. (The next federal filing deadline is June 2.)

Holbrook said he believes he’ll win by attracting conservative-minded voters frustrated with Washington. A campaign flier reads: Holbrook “will work hard to make America SAFE and GREAT again.”

Of Pingree, he said: “She is so far left of center she no longer represents a plurality of voters in this district.”

Holbrook contends he is more conservative than Smith, who supports admitting thoroughly vetted refugees and believes Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, is the law of the land.

But Smith said he is just as conservative as Holbrook when it comes to defense and fiscal issues. The main difference between the two, Smith said, is their viability as candidates.

The Maine GOP prefers to stay neutral leading up to the primary, spokeswoman Nina McLaughlin said.

Both candidates criticized Pingree for working on issues such as food waste, butterfly habitats and organic farming, which they say aren’t important to Mainers beleaguered by a stagnant economy.

Smith attacked her recent trip to Cuba in a recent “South Park”-style campaign ad.

In a statement, Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch said that as a member of Congress, Pingree is focused on a “wide range of issues” including college affordability, clean energy jobs, growing the agricultural economy and improving veteran care.

The last time a Republican represented the 1st District was in 1997, when James Longley left office after losing re-election.

Pingree beat Republican Isaac Misiuk by 30 percentage points in 2014, and former Republican state senate majority leader Jonathan Courtney by 28 points in 2012. Courtney defeated Patrick Calder by just 275 votes in the 2012 Republican primary.


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