Neither candidate in the 2nd Congressional District race will receive an endorsement from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine this year, but that didn’t stop the Republican challenger from claiming a small victory in the decision.

On Monday, David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said neither Democrat incumbent Mike Michaud nor Republican Kevin Raye would receive an endorsement, because their positions on sporting issues were equally aligned with the group’s, he said.

The alliance, which advocates for hunting and fishing interests, bases its decisions on questionnaires that candidates fill out. After scoring the questionnaires this year, the alliance awarded only one endorsement to Maine’s federal candidates — Republican Jon Courtney, who is running for the 1st Congressional District against Democrat Chellie Pingree. Pingree, the incumbent, didn’t return the questionnaire, Trahan said.

In the other two federal races, the results of the questionnaires were equal among contenders, he said.

“All of the other candidates that we interviewed — which included Angus King, Charlie Summers, Kevin Raye and Mike Michaud — were terrific,” Trahan said. “We consider all those candidates to be our very strong friends, and we decided we wouldn’t endorse in either race.”

Nonetheless, in a press release Monday, Kevin Raye’s campaign manager touted the lack of an endorsement as a setback for Michaud, who has received the group’s endorsement during his previous five campaigns.

“To not endorse a candidate in the Second District race marks a substantial change from the past, when the SAM Board has endorsed Michaud in each of his previous five races,” Robert Caverly said. “For the first time in his congressional career, Mike Michaud heads into this election without the endorsement of Maine’s largest sportsmen’s organization.”

But Trahan said the group’s endorsement wasn’t intended as a slight to Michaud or anyone else.

“No, they’re just all terrific candidates,” he said.

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said there’s no reason to doubt Trahan’s explanation.

“I tend to put more stock into what SAM is saying in this particular instance,” Brewer said. “Michaud is not your typical Democrat. He’s gotten SAM endorsements and NRA endorsements in the past. He’s certainly not a Nancy Pelosi-type Democrat.”

Brewer said Caverly’s announcement amounts to spin, but added that the move makes sense.

“If you didn’t get the endorsement, what do you do?” he said. “Someone in the campaign probably said, ‘We can spin it and see if we get any traction.’ If I was in their shoes, I probably would have done the same thing.”

Dan Cashman, campaign spokesman for Michaud, said the lack of endorsement isn’t a black eye.

“We are proud of the high marks SAM has given us this year, as they have in year’s past,” he said.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

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