Brunswick Republican files to challenge Pingree in 2016

A Republican has launched an uphill 2016 challenge against U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District.

Mark Holbrook, a clinical professional counselor from Brunswick, filed paperwork to run with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday. He’s the first Republican to announce a run against Pingree, who cruised to an easy win against two political newcomers in 2014.

Holbrook also has launched a website saying he “decided to get involved in politics because I was unwilling to continue to sit on the sidelines and watch the continued erosion of our freedom by out-of-control bureaucrats and government over-reach.”

Holbrook ran for the Maine House in 2014, but lost resoundingly to Democrat Ralph Tucker.

It’s difficult to overstate how much of a challenge this race will be for any Republican, especially an unknown like Holbrook: Pingree is a four-term incumbent in a safe Democratic district and a fundraising juggernaut with $242,000 in her campaign account by September’s end. — Michael Shepherd

Lewiston mayoral candidates debate ahead of Dec. 8 runoff

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald and his opponent, Ben Chin, debated on Thursday for the first time in their runoff contest, which will be decided on Dec. 8.

The two-hour debate between the conservative mayor and the liberal activist focused on ways the city can improve its reputation, taxes and housing, according to the Sun JournalChin outpolled Macdonald on Election Day, but with only 44 percent of votes, falling short of the majority needed to win the office outright.

The race has been dominated by two events that have made national headlines: Macdonald’s call for an online registry of welfare recipients and signs against Chin that were denounced as racist that were put up by local landlord Joe Dunne, whom Chin has called a slumlord.

Macdonald defended Dunne on Thursday, saying he “has a big heart” and takes in people he doesn’t have to, but Chin said he has met with tenants who go without heat or other necessities and that the city must discourage a housing business model where “the only way to make money is by not filling their oil tank in the winter.”

The mayor said that Lewiston’s high property taxes “are killing businesses” and that he’ll continue to pursue welfare reform, and “If you feel that that’s the direction you want to go, I’d appreciate your vote on Dec. 8.”

Chin said the city must grow its property tax base and that he’d work to unite Lewiston, calling “division, and politics based on it, are our great enemy.” — Michael Shepherd

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King staffers join ‘Facial Hair Caucus’

The most famous mustache in Maine politics certainly belongs to independent U.S. Sen. Angus King. But for November, some of King’s staffers joined him in “the Facial Hair Caucus,” memorialized in this Instagram photo.

It was taken next to the junior senator’s bust of Civil War general, governor and all-around cool guy Joshua Chamberlain, who had an excellent mustache himself. King’s a huge Chamberlain fan, as you’ve probably heard. (He talks about him often.)

Will we still be talking about King’s ‘stache in 100 years? I’m not sure, but his staffers might learn the same lesson that their boss has: It’s hard to beat the greats. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.