WASHINGTON — A self-proclaimed “long shot” says he is running for Congress against Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st District.

Republican Patrick Calder said via email this afternoon that, “I have made my decision, and I will seek the Republican nomination to run for Congress against Chellie Pingree here in Maine’s 1st District.”

Calder, 29, is a merchant mariner from Portland who has been weighing a run against Pingree for months. So far he is the only Republican to get in the race against Pingree, who this year is seeking a third term in the U.S. House.

Earlier this month, Maine Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney, a Republican from Springvale, said he is unlikely to challenge Pingree. Courtney was the candidate many Republicans and independent analysts thought was best positioned to be a credible challenger for Pingree.

“Even with Courtney, Republicans were going to have a tough time defeating Pingree,” Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington, said when Courtney all but ruled out a run. “Without him, that window of opportunity probably closes a little further. It’s very tough to see Pingree losing at this stage in the cycle.”

Calder said then that, “I know I would be an incredible long shot. But it is important that people be given an alternative” to Pingree.

Calder has said if he challenged Pingree he would take a leave of absence from his job, which requires him to be gone half the year in 10-week stretches.

Campaign finance reports for the last quarter of 2011 aren’t due into the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31. As of Sept. 30, Pingree’s campaign had $114,644 on hand, after raising $73,723.

Calder filed a campaign finance reporter for the third quarter which showed he had $1,573 on hand as of Sept. 30.

The deadline for sending fourth quarter campaign reports to the Federal Election Commission is Jan. 31.

Pingree acknowledged in an interview last year, after she and billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman got married in June, that she would have access to much more cash for her race this year. A candidate’s personal funds aren’t subject to federal limits for individual campaign contributions.

But Pingree said then that she wouldn’t go into the race expecting to use personal money.

“I have always been a pretty prolific fundraiser, so I am always prepared to raise as much money as I need to take on a challenger,” Pingree said.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]

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