Term-limited Maine House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan said Wednesday that he won’t run for higher office in 2016.

McCabe, a 37-year-old Democrat in his fourth House term, had been considering a 2016 run for the seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, now held by freshman U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. But he said he didn’t want to commit to a campaign, even though many people from Maine to Washington have encouraged him to run and he isn’t ruling out a future in politics.

“Right now, I’m going to focus on the caucus as well as spending more time with my family,” McCabe said.

In November, Poliquin beat Democrat Emily Cain for the 2nd District seat, putting it in his party’s column for the first time in 20 years.

But in 2016, he’s expected to have a target on his back. The National Democratic Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for House Democrats, has said the district is a top pickup opportunity for them in a presidential year and has already asked Cain, a former state senator from Orono, to run again and she has said she’s considering it.

McCabe, a registered Maine Guide who is executive director of Lake George Regional Park, was seen by some as the top alternative candidate in the 2nd District, which is more conservative and rural than the rest of Maine. He’s the only one of five Democratic leaders from the 2nd District at the Maine State House, while four of five Republican leaders come from the 2nd District. He votes with Republicans on gun issues, having been endorsed by the National Rifle Association in past bids for office.


While Cain may be the current front-runner for the 2016 nomination, other Democrats have publicly discussed potential interest in 2nd District bids.

Bangor city councilors Joe Baldacci, a lawyer and the brother of former Gov. John Baldacci, and Ben Sprague, a financial adviser and former independent who registered as a Democrat in December, have said they aren’t ruling out runs.

The 2nd District has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1988, but it went red in 2014. Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, won every county but one in the district over Democrat Mike Michaud, who was the sitting congressman, while Cain won just two counties over Poliquin.

However, McCabe said he’s a good example for Democrats to follow in the 2nd District. LePage and Poliquin — who both faced two opponents — won Skowhegan with less than half of the town’s votes, yet McCabe took his district with 62 percent of votes.

“People know what my priorities are. They know I’m pro-sportsman and pro-gun,” he said, “but at the same time, I believe in core Democratic values such as healthcare and the environment and women’s rights, and I have a record to back that up.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652


Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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