Citing a broad coalition of politicians it has relied on for help in an ongoing fight to defeat a referendum that would ban the use of three methods of hunting bears in Maine, the state’s largest sportsman’s group on Friday announced that it will not endorse candidates in the state’s gubernatorial race, nor in U.S. Senate or House of Representative races.
“Because this coalition is a fragile collection representinga wide array of political interests and that this election endorsement process is, although temporary, a potential distraction that could fracture this important coalition, our Board of Directors has voted unanimously to not endorse in the Governor’s race, First and Second District U.S. House of Representatives race and U.S.Senate election,” the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine announced in a press release.
Instead, the group graded many of those same candidates, in many cases citing positive relationships that those candidates have had with SAM.
In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Gov. Paul R. LePage received the highest grade, an A. Democratic challenger Mike Michaud received an A-minus, while independent Elliot Cutler received a B grade.
SAM said LePage is a current member of the group. Both Cutler and Michaud are lifetime SAM members.
In the First District race for U.S. House of Representatives, Democratic candidate Chellie Pingree, the incumbent, was not graded because she had not completed a SAM questionnaire or interview. Her Republican opponent, Isaac Misiuk received an A grade, as did independent Richard Murphy.
In the Second District House race, Republican Bruce Poliquin and independent Blaine Richardson received A grades, while Democrat Emily Cain received a B.
In the race for U.S. Senate, neither longtime incumbent, Republican Susan Collins, nor her opponent, Democrat Shenna Bellows, were graded, as neither had filled out the SAM questionnaire or been interviewed by the group.