AUGUSTA, Maine — A second Democrat has entered the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District 16 months before the election.

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, announced Monday that he filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to enter the race Monday morning. The filing sets up a Democratic primary between Jackson and at least one other candidate, Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, who filed two weeks ago.

Jackson, who served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives and is midway through his third term in the Senate, serves as the Senate’s assistant majority leader. In a statement released Monday morning, Jackson said his focus as congressman would be broad, but with rural values at its core.

“To stand up for Maine’s Middle class and working families, to do more for our rural communities and public schools, to help small businesses that need fast access to sufficient capital, Maine needs a strong, clear voice in Washington,” said Jackson. “I believe I can be that voice.”

Jackson, who is a logger by trade, is one of many people from both major parties who have expressed interest in the 2nd Congressional District seat, including several Democrats. The flurry of interest in the seat was ignited when the seat’s occupant, Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, said he’s considering running for governor.

Jackson highlighted his recent positions opposite Gov. Paul LePage and many Republicans on the issues of expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act and the biennial state budget, both of which were vetoed by Gov. LePage. Republicans upheld the veto on Medicaid expansion while wide majorities of bipartisan lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature, including Jackson, overrode the budget veto.

“While serving in the state Legislature and in my positions of leadership, I’ve brought people together to do what’s right,” said Jackson. “I’ve tried to lead by example, to stand up for what’s equitable. Sometimes I’ve come up a vote or two short, but I’ve always come back to try again and to act responsibly and respectfully.”

Jackson, who has long been highly critical of LePage throughout the governor’s term — including sponsoring an unsuccessful bill to cancel LePage’s pension unless LePage is elected to a second gubernatorial term — found himself as the focus of LePage’s personal attacks in recent weeks, but Jackson for the most part declined to engage in those exchanges.

“I’ve shown throughout the time I’ve been in office that I will get involved and fight for things, even when it upsets some people,” said Jackson Monday morning during a telephone interview. “I’m not going to sit on my hands and not talk about things and I think that’s what people want from their elected officials. I’m a working class person who got into politics because there wasn’t anyone speaking for people like myself.”

Jackson referred to LePage several times in his campaign announcement Monday, setting his progressive ideology apart from the governor’s.

“I will always work to help folks onto a ladder of success and I will never pull it out from under anyone who strives to climb every rung they possibly can,” said Jackson. “Republicans in Congress have been acting just like our governor here in Maine. I want to bring a dose of reality and working experience to Washington.”

Jackson, 45, went to school in Aroostook County and holds a business degree from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He said he will begin making announcements about campaign staff and events after Labor Day.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.