Rep. Chellie Pingree is pictured in her Portland office on March 25, 2022. Credit: David Marino Jr. / BDN

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Yet again, Rep. Chellie Pingree is the most prepared and thoughtful choice for voters in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

The Democratic incumbent has a strong record on h ealth care access, including access to reproductive care. She is a longtime defender of Maine’s environment and advocate for t aking action to address climate change. And she is able to do this in support of, not at the expense of, Maine’s economy. That is important nuance.

“I think people sometimes have the view that you’re in one camp or the other — you’re with Marjorie Taylor Greene or you’re with the Squad,” Pingree told the BDN editorial board. “People are always trying to sort of define everybody in a little pocket. So much of the work that we do is in that gray area, or it crosses over a line.”

Pingree explained that she is comfortable working with environmental groups on issues like addressing climate change, but disagrees with them on things like lobster regulations and biomass in support of Maine’s wood products industry. In a hyperpolarized world of soundbytes, we appreciate her willingness to work within these gray areas on behalf of the district she represents.

why we endorse candidates

We hope people will vote for someone and not against someone else, and Pingree has shown herself to be a capable and collaborative representative over the years. But we also remain frustrated that a strong Republican alternative has yet to materialize for 1st District voters. It is almost like deja vu.

“Once again, as it has repeatedly in the past, the Maine Republican Party has failed to recruit a moderate, well-prepared candidate capable of competing in a Democratic leaning-district,” we wrote about the 2020 matchup between Pingree and a different Republican challenger.

Well, we feel the same way now.

Republican candidate Ed Thelander has an impressive background and we had a pleasant conversation with him as part of this endorsement process. He had some interesting things to say about the need for his party to “speak in full thought, and not lead with this negative lead into everything.”

But then he went and ignored his own advice.

At an Oct. 12 lobstermen’s rally, Thelander made an outrageous and frankly vile comparison between poorly developed lobster regulations and rape. He apologized for the remarks when asked about them during a debate later that day.

Thelander also seems to make an unfortunate habit of confidently declaring something as fact, as a problem that needs fixing, without actually knowing what he’s talking about. He echoed myths about litter boxes in schools and businesses, and voter fraud in a specific Maine town, until later conceding that maybe he didn’t actually have his facts straight after all — he had just heard from people that these things had supposedly happened.

This kind of hysteria over things that didn’t actually happen is plaguing politics today, especially in Thelander’s Republican Party. And he seems poised to make it worse, not better.

“The political pandering that’s done to get each other’s bases spun up is what’s hurting the country so much,” Thelander told the editorial board. He was correct in this diagnosis, but through his over-the-top rhetoric and apparent penchant for amplifying rumor as fact, he has already started to add to the existing problem.

So we find ourselves back in the same place we were in 2020. Chellie Pingree has done her homework and the work for her constituents. She is still the best choice for 1st District voters.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...