Ed Thelander and Rep. Chellie Pingree Credit: BDN File Photo

Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Ed Thelander used his first press conference to blame Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree for an uptick in violent crime in the city of Portland.

Portland Police recently announced that patrols would be reassigned to city hot spots to deal with a sharp increase in shootings and stabbings in Maine’s largest city.

While law enforcement say staffing shortages and the partial closure of the Cumberland County Jail are to blame, Thelander attributed the spike in violent incidents to what he described as progressive policies embraced by Pingree and fellow Democrats.

Speaking outside Portland City Hall, Thelander said Pingree’s rhetoric and support for bills like the Justice in Policing Act — which sought to overhaul police training and strategies — hurts law enforcement.

“This disregard for police is contagious. It has affected recruiting. It is causing hate and disrespect for the people who took an oath to protect us,” he said.

In a written statement, Pingree said her job is to provide resources to local law enforcement, which she did by voting last year for the American Rescue Plan, which provided $350 billion to beef up policing.

She noted that Thelander’s critique was from the national GOP playbook that tries to frame Democrats as anti-law enforcement.

She also said he, like other Republicans, has “no economic plan besides massive tax cuts for wealthy corporations and defunding Medicare and Social Security.”

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.