AUGUSTA, Maine — A first-term state lawmaker from Franklin County is the second Republican to declare a run against U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District, which is expected to be a top national battleground in the 2024 elections.
Rep. Michael Soboleski, R-Phillips, released a Thursday video announcing his run against Golden, a third-term Democrat representing a conservative-leaning district that has been a top national battleground for a decade. Former President Donald Trump won it in 2016 and 2020.
“People are angry, people are frustrated, they see their freedoms being eroded every day, and they’re struggling to stay afloat,” he said in the video.
Soboleski figures to be an insurgent conservative candidate in a burgeoning Republican primary. Fellow first-term Rep. Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver from Fort Kent, is expected to join the race this month with the backing of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California. Former Maine Senate hopeful Robert Cross of Dedham is also running.
Golden, a Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will be a difficult opponent. Soboleski’s video used a picture of Golden and President Joe Biden traveling to Maine together in July. He continued Republican efforts to tie the congressman to national Democrats, including by saying he has “done nothing” to protect the southern border.
Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin tried a similar line against Golden in their 2022 race, but they had few substantive differences on border policy. While Golden overwhelmingly votes with his party, he is one of the House’s top centrists and often breaks with Democrats. He recently angered Maine progressives with a firm stance against Biden’s student debt relief plans.
Soboleski has only briefly been on the political stage here. His district is one of the most conservative areas of the state. He won a 2022 primary by just five votes over Rangeley businesswoman Nancy Bessey, going on to win the seat easily in the general election.
More than most state lawmakers, he has been a vocal supporter of Trump. Soboleski’s 2022 campaign page included a quote of him saying “we were all better off” under the former president’s policies. Trump also signed a copy of his book “The Art of the Deal” for Soboleski in 1989, and the Maine lawmaker posted a picture of it on his campaign site.
The new candidate has an eclectic background. Soboleski grew up in Gardiner and served stateside in the Marines, went to the University of Maine at Machias on the GI Bill, ran a small business here and then became a car salesman.
After that, he pursued a career as an actor and stuntman. Under the stage name Michael Arthur, he often played small roles as police officers, including in the 2003 film “Anger Management” and three episodes of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” between 2002 and 2010. He performed stunts in Martin Scorcese’s 2006 film “The Departed.”
While living in a Midtown Manhattan apartment during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Soboleski joined a team of first responders that searched for survivors and remains at the World Trade Center site. He later pushed for Congress passage of the Zadroga Act, a law that provides health monitoring and aid to 9/11 responders and was enacted in 2011.