Lucas St. Clair enters race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District

By Scott Thistle, Portland Press Herald | Oct 03, 2017
Lucas St. Clair Portland Press Herald file photo

A prominent advocate for the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument whose mother donated the monument land to the federal government announced Monday that he is running for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat.

Lucas St. Clair, 39, the son of philanthropist Roxanne Quimby, said he wants to be in Congress to help improve Maine’s economy and protect the state’s way of life.

“I’m running for Congress because I know that we can do better, but if we want things to change, we have to get started now,” said St. Clair, who announced his candidacy at a breakfast meeting with about 40 supporters in Millinocket before appearing at a larger, afternoon press conference at the Bangor Public Library.

St. Clair now lives in Portland but has purchased a home in Hampden, where he intends to live, said David Farmer, St. Clair’s political adviser.

St. Clair is the sixth Democrat to enter an increasingly crowded primary in which voters will decide who should challenge the two-term incumbent, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Oakland. St. Clair took a jab at Poliquin, who has been criticized for dodging reporters seeking his position on controversial issues.

“Jobs, opportunities and a way of life are being lost,” St. Clair said. “It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn things around. We can strengthen our communities and create jobs. But we can’t do it if we keep electing politicians who hide from the people who they were elected to serve and who won’t tell us where they stand or what they believe in.”

Maine Republicans were quick to criticize St. Clair, suggesting he was moving to the 2nd District only to run for Congress. The fast reaction by Republicans also suggests they regard St. Clair as a serious opponent.

Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, also criticized St. Clair’s decision to announce the day after a gunman had killed at least 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting incident in modern U.S. history.

“This is without a doubt the most insensitive and out-of-touch campaign kickoff in Maine history,” Savage said. Savage also provided a copy of St. Clair’s voter registration card, which listed his residence in Portland.

There is no legal requirement that a candidate live in the congressional district he or she is running for, although the question of residency could be a political liability. Poliquin himself discovered that in 2014, when he first ran for Congress and some opponents questioned whether he really lived in his modest home in Oakland or at his sizable property on the Maine coast in Georgetown, which is in the 1st Congressional District.

At his announcement in Bangor, St. Clair addressed the Las Vegas shooting and called for a moment of silence. He praised the police and other first responders and noted that he has friends in Las Vegas, who were fortunately all safe.

“This morning I hugged my wife a little tighter. Pulled the kids a little closer. This is a terrible tragedy. At this point, I don’t know too many of the details or what might have been done to prevent this,” St. Clair said. “But I know as a gun owner, it’s my responsibility to keep my guns locked up, safe and away from my kids, and that no responsible gun owner would want someone like the person who carried out this attack to have a weapon.”

Former President Barack Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in August 2016 after Elliotsville Plantation, a nonprofit created by Quimby, St. Clair’s mother, donated more than 87,000 acres of land and pledged a $40 million endowment for the project. The monument, which is near Baxter State Park and Millinocket, has been credited with injecting some life into the area’s struggling economy.

Lindsay Downing, a small-business owner from Mount Chase who moved back home to the Katahdin region in 2015, spoke to that when she introduced St. Clair in Bangor.

“I’ve seen what Lucas can do. I’ve seen how he can bring people together to get things done — Republicans, Democrats, Independents,” she said. “But the biggest reason that I’m supporting Lucas is his passion. He is passionate about the Katahdin region, he’s passionate about Maine, and, most importantly, he’s passionate about the people of this state.”

However, St. Clair’s involvement in the monument project may also expose him to criticism from those who view Katahdin Woods and Waters as a threat to local traditions because of restrictions on logging and other activities.

Other Democrats in the race include state Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston, a Marine Corps veteran and assistant majority leader in the Maine House of Representatives; Jonathan Fulford, a two-time state Senate candidate from Waldo County; Bar Harbor restaurateur Tim Rich; Craig Olson, an Islesboro resident, former selectman and antique bookseller; and Phil Cleaves, a Dexter resident.

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