Four candidates running to be the official Democratic Party nominee for Maine’s Second District, which includes Lewiston, spent time at a Q&A panel in Carnegie Hall on Thursday, March 22. While each of the four candidates – Jonathan Fulford, Jared Golden ’11, Craig Olsen, and Lucas St. Clair – agreed on many of the issues discussed in the Q&A, each tried to highlight what set them apart from their peers.
The panel utilized pre-scripted questions that were asked by members of the community. Each candidate was given a chance to give their answer to a question, and signs were used to indicate to candidates how much time they had left to give their answers. Topics ranged from hot-button issues like gun control to a discussion of the differing responsibilities of state and federal governments.
One area where the four candidates held differing opinions was whether federal government should raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. While three of the four supported such a measure, St. Clair felt that there were more effective ways to reduce income inequality, calling fifteen dollars an hour an “arbitrary number that doesn’t make sense in a lot of places.”
“I think that a requirement for corporations to have the highest bidder and lowest bidder to have a smaller margin makes sense. I think regionalizing our country and then focusing on the GDP of each one of those regions and requiring a minimum wage in each [makes sense],” said St. Clair.
One issue that Golden in particular, as a veteran who served time in both Iraq and Afghanistan, felt strongly about was a need for a president to seek congressional approval before declaring war, an idea that is enshrined in the constitution, but hasn’t actually happened since World War II.
“Anytime we’re going to be putting troops in combat, I want to see congress taking a vote…they owe it to everyone that fights in those wars. I wish that they had done it for me,” said Golden.
Each candidate used their closing remarks to emphasize respect for their Democratic opponents, as well as their previous experiences that would make each of them an ideal nominee.
Olson went first and declared that whoever won the primary, he would work to support them. Golden followed and discussed his previous experience as the Democratic Assistant Majority Leader in the Maine House of Representatives. Fulford discussed the “sense of unease about the future” he saw campaigning that could be harnessed to create a movement for change.
“We can create a movement that will have more potential for change than we’ve seen since FDR’s first five years. That is what we actually have to do to right: fix the direction we’ve gone as a society,” said Fulford.
St. Clair gave the final closing remarks of the night and discussed his experience working “to rally thousands and thousands of people” to make the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument a reality.
Maine’s Second Congressional District covers the vast majority of the state, including all of the state’s land north of Augusta. The Lewiston/Auburn metropolitan area is the largest city in the district.
The Democratic Primary Election will take place on June 12, with the General Election on November 6. Whichever of the candidates receives the Democratic nomination in June will face the Second District’s current congressman, Republican Bruce Poliquin, in the general election.