Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D)

Maine | District 1

N/A

pingree.house.gov

Biography

Elected: 2008, 3rd term.

Born: April 2, 1955, Minneapolis, MN

Home: North Haven, ME

Education: Col. of the Atlantic, B.A., 1979

Professional Career: Farmer, 1977-1980; Founder & pres., N. Island Designs Co., 1981-92; Pres. & CEO, Common Cause, 2003-07.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Lutheran

Family: Separated (Donald Sussman) , 3 children (3 from previous marriage); 2 grandchildren

Chellie Pingree, elected in 2008, was the first Democratic woman from Maine elected to Congress, even though the state has a long history of electing women. A blunt-talking liberal, Pingree has maintained her popularity by paying close attention to state issues, from ships to seafood.

Pingree grew up in Minnesota, the granddaughter of Scandinavian immigrants who came to work as dairy farmers. Her parents moved to Minneapolis, where her father was an accountant and her mother a nurse. The city’s anti-war activism during the Vietnam era had a profound influence on Pingree, and she left high school early for alternative education programs on the East Coast. At one program in Worcester, Mass., she met her future husband and followed him to Maine, where they settled on remote North Haven Island in Penobscot Bay. As disciples of the “back to the land” movement, they lived for years in a cabin without running water or electricity and made their living as organic farmers. Although the couple later divorced, Pingree thrived on the island, both politically and professionally. In 1981, she started her own business selling knitting kits. At its peak, the company, the North Island Designs Company, distributed 100,000 mail-order catalogs. She started her political career in local offices on the island, including serving as tax assessor and on the planning and school boards.

In 1991, Pingree attended a speech by former Rep. Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, who briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, which inspired her to take her friends’ advice and run for an open seat in the state Senate. She went door-to-door in the traditionally Republican district in Knox County and won. Pingree rose to majority leader in 1996. As leader, she fought back a challenge from pharmaceutical companies and persuaded reluctant parties to agree to a law allowing the state to negotiate prescription drug prices, the first such law in the country.

In 2002, Pingree ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican moderate. Shortly after her loss, she received an offer to become president of Common Cause, the Washington, D.C., government and campaign watchdog group. She took the reins of the nonprofit organization just as it had been thrust into the national spotlight by the push to overhaul the nation’s campaign finance laws. That fight was not easy. She recalls an often strained relationship with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a Republican who accused her of injecting partisanship into her work. As president, Pingree also directed Common Cause to lobby against media consolidation in the hands of a few powerful companies.

She left the job in early 2007 to run for the House seat that Democratic Rep. Tom Allen gave up to campaign for the Senate. Although she had worked for years to limit the influence of money in politics, Pingree had no trouble raising far more of it than any of her five rivals for the Democratic nomination. She mostly eschewed money from political action committees but enjoyed the backing of EMILY’s List, which funds women candidates who support abortion rights. Pingree won the primary with 44% of the vote. In the general election, she had a decisive fundraising advantage, bringing in $2.2 million compared with her Republican opponent, state Sen. Charles Summers, who raised about $645,000. Pingree won 55%-45%.

In the House, Pingree has been a consistently loyal Democrat. She was awarded a plum seat on the Appropriations Committee for the 113th Congress (2013-14), enabling her to further her work in looking after her region’s defense interests. She has helped secure money for New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard near the Maine border, and she strongly backed keeping in Maine the Pratt & Whitney engine for the F-35 fighter jet. In the summer of 2012, when an excess supply of lobsters drove down prices precipitously, Pingree contacted cruise ship companies with vessels that dock in Maine and successfully urged them to buy thousands of pounds’ worth of the crustaceans. That is not the only food-related issue she has worked on. Pingree introduced a bill in 2011 to shift some federal subsidies from large-scale agricultural producers to small, local farms. The same year, she demanded that the ammonia-treated ground beef filler known as “pink slime” be removed from school lunch menus.

During the 2009-2010 health care debate, Pingree ardently backed a government-run public option. She takes a strong interest in environmental issues, helping to form the House Sustainable Energy and Environmental Coalition and introducing a bill forcing BP to pay royalties on the oil from its massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

In her 2010 reelection campaign, Pingree’s opponent was alternative energy company owner Dean Scontras, who got support from tea party activists. The Maine Republican Party ran ads accusing Pingree of taking trips on the corporate jet of her fiancée, hedge-fund billionaire Donald Sussman. (Pingree and Sussman married in 2011.) Scontras also sought to tie her to liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The nation’s anti-incumbent sentiment helped him close the gap, even with far less money than Pingree. But her longtime familiarity with the district’s voters helped her pull off a win with 57% of the vote.

Pingree had less trouble in 2012, dispatching Republican Jon Courtney with 65% of the vote. She briefly considered running for the Senate that year, but decided against it after popular independent Angus King made his interest in the seat known. She has been discussed as a potential candidate for governor in 2014 and has clashed with Republican Gov. Paul LePage on his call for cuts in the state’s Medicaid spending.

Right-wing blogs and the watchdog group Sunlight Foundation have raised questions about Sussman, who has been a major donor to Democratic super PACs and who, in 2012, bought a controlling interest in two newspapers, the Portland Press Herald and the Kennebec Journal, both of which cover Pingree’s district. She says her husband has no influence over her job; neither newspaper endorsed a candidate in the 1st District race in 2012.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-6116

(202) 225-5590

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2162
Washington, DC 20515-1901

MAIN OFFICE

(207) 774-5019

(207) 871-0720

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2162
Washington, DC 20515-1901

DISTRICT OFFICE

(207) 774-5019

(207) 871-0720

2 Portland Fish Pier Suite 304
Portland, ME 04101-4633

DISTRICT OFFICE

(207) 774-5019

(207) 871-0720

2 Portland Fish Pier Suite 304
Portland, ME 04101-4633

DISTRICT OFFICE

(207) 873-5713

(207) 873-5717

One Silver Street
Waterville, ME 04901

DISTRICT OFFICE

(207) 774-5019

(207) 871-0720

One Silver Street
Waterville, ME 04901

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

138 Turner Farm Road
North Haven, ME 04853

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(207) 774-5019

(207) 871-0720

138 Turner Farm Road
North Haven, ME 04853

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Agriculture

Kelliann Blazek
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Kelliann Blazek
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Arts

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Budget

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Commerce

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Economics

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Education

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Energy

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Environment

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Family

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Finance

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Foreign

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Govt Ops

Kelliann Blazek
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Health

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Housing

Kelliann Blazek
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Evan Johnston
Staff Assistant; Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Intelligence

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Judiciary

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Labor

Evan Johnston
Staff Assistant; Legislative Assistant

Medicare

Megan Garratt-Reed
Director of Operations; Legislative Assistant

Military

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Public Works

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Science

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Social Security

Ann Goodridge
Constituent Services Representative

Tax

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Technology

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Telecommunications

Kimber Colton
Legislative Counsel

Trade

Evan Johnston
Staff Assistant; Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Veterans

Joseph Marro
Legislative Assistant

joe.marro@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-6116

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 186,309
Percent: 60.33%
Isaac Misiuk
Votes: 94,847
Percent: 30.71%
Richard Murphy
Votes: 27,669
Percent: 8.96%
2012 GENERAL
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 236,363
Percent: 64.79%
Jonathan Courtney
Votes: 128,440
Percent: 35.21%
2012 PRIMARY
Chellie Pingree
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 169,114
Percent: 56.82%
Dean Scontras
Votes: 128,501
Percent: 43.17%
2010 PRIMARY
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 57,799
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 205,629
Percent: 54.9%
Charles Summers
Votes: 168,930
Percent: 45.1%
2008 PRIMARY
Chellie Pingree
Votes: 24,324
Percent: 43.92%
Adam Cote
Votes: 15,706
Percent: 28.36%
Michael Brennan
Votes: 6,040
Percent: 10.91%
Ethan Strimling
Votes: 5,833
Percent: 10.53%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (57%), 2008 (55%)

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