Pingree submits signatures for U.S. House District 1 race

AUGUSTA, Maine — Congresswoman Chellie Pingree submitted her signatures Monday to ensure her place on the November ballot for the U.S. House race in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Pingree, who has held that seat for the last two terms, flirted briefly with running for the U.S. Senate after Olympia Snowe announced that she planned to retire but ultimately decided to run for reelection in House.

“The enthusiasm and outpouring of support from volunteers has been overwhelming,” Pingree said.  “We had volunteers from all across the First District collecting signatures, and I’m grateful for the incredible enthusiasm.

“Creating an economy that works for average families and protecting basic health care rights for women are a couple of the issues a lot of people talk to me about. They know these issues are on the line and who we send to Congress makes a big difference.”

While Pingree faced potential uncertainly as the likely Democratic nominee in a wide-open Senate race that features former independent Maine Gov. Angus King and a number of Republican hopefuls, she likely will be heavily favored in the 1st District race.

First, she’s the incumbent and has great name recognition. Second, the 1st District is much more liberal and in line with Pingree’s political views. Third, she has access to a significant amount of campaign cash.

Also, most top-name Republicans in Maine are focused on the Senate at the moment. Before Snowe’s announcement, only Patrick Calder, a virtual unknown, had announced his candidacy.

Since, Maine Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney of Springvale, who is termed out in the Legislature, has declared his intent to run.

Calder and Courtney have until Thursday to submit at least 1,000 signatures but no more than 1,500 to get on the ballot. It’s possible that others — both Democrats and Republicans — could submit signatures this week, although it’s not likely that a Democrat would challenge Pingree in a primary.