Democrats added one more ripple in the blue wave that helped them regain control of the House of Representatives today as Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner in his race against incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) over a week after election day.
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The result was a surprise win for the Democrats, particularly since Golden trailed Poliquin by around 2,000 votes in the initial tallies of the vote. However, since no single candidate exceeded the required 50% of the vote under Maine’s recently adopted ranked-choice voting system — due primarily to the presence of two third-party independent candidates on the ballot — the votes were recounted with voters’ second choices in their ranking of the candidates replacing the first place votes they cast for the two lowest ranking candidates in the initial count.
In keeping with general Republican contempt for the will of the electorate, Congressman Poliquin sued to stop the recount but was turned down by a judge who declined to issue a temporary restraining order halting the recount, according to The Portland Press-Herald.
When the new tabulation was completed, and the results were announced today, it was clear why Poliquin was so desperate to stop the recount. The new totals showed that once the second place votes were factored in, Golden had taken the lead by nearly 3,000 votes and was declared the winner in another upset for the Republicans.
“The final vote tally was 139,231 votes for Golden versus 136,326 votes for Poliquin – or 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent,” according to The Press-Herald.
The newly-elected Golden is a Marine Corps veteran and state legislator who made history as the first U.S. congressional candidate to ever be elected using the ranked-choice method. He vowed to represent all the people of his home state in his victory speech.
“I’m going to keep visiting our docks, farms and forests,” Golden said, “so the fishermen, farmers and the loggers of this state will have a chance to make their voice heard. The people of this district deserve a representative who comes to them. They deserve someone who will seek out their wisdom, who learns from their experience – who knows them well enough to know the right vote to improve their lives and to represent them.”
The declaration of Golden as the winner, however, does not mean an end to the legal battle over the results. Congressman Poliquin has filed suit in federal court questioning the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting.
“It is now officially clear I won the constitutional ‘one-person, one-vote’ first choice election on Election Day that has been used in Maine for more than 100 years,” Poliquin said in a statement Thursday afternoon after the results were announced. “We will proceed with our constitutional concerns about the ranked-vote algorithm,” The Press-Herald reported.
Golden does not expect the legal challenges to amount to much and fully intends to take his seat in Congress in January.
“That’s his right. That’s his decision and I respect that,” Golden said.
Having read the judge’s opinion that allowed the recount to proceed, Golden was optimistic that the Maine election law would be upheld.
“It does not look like the judge is likely to find there are constitutional grounds for the case to really proceed,” Golden said. “That being said, we will be seated on Jan. 3 and we will begin our work on Jan. 3.”
Golden’s victory today brings the total number of Republicans ousted by Democratic challengers in the midterms to 35 with results from 7 more tight races still to be determined. It also leaves Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) as the only Republican member of Congress in the entire New England region.
Splash by splash, the blue wave keeps lapping away at Republican congressional seats, increasingly cementing the Democratic majority in the House and throwing President Trump’s agenda further into the dustbin of history. Congratulations Congressman Golden. It’s now time to head to Washington DC and make this a truly “golden” opportunity to effect change.
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Original reporting by Kevin Miller in The Portland Press-Herald.