Image courtesy of Jonathan Fulford
Democratic Hopeful holds Bangor meeting with potential voters.
by Ryan Mains
(Bangor, Maine)- As the 2018 midterms grows closer, the list of Democrat candidates hoping to take on incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin grows smaller and smaller, with more certain frontrunners emerging. While Poliquin’s bid for re-election has been labelled a “Republican-leaning” race by the Cook Political Report, a series of Democratic upsets in special elections in states like Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida has made it clear that there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
One candidate hoping to unseat Poliquin is Jonathan Fulford, owner of construction company Artisan Builders, co-owner of Neptune Maritime LLC, and former candidate for State Senate. Despite a narrow defeat at the hands of Senate President Mike Thibeadou, Fulford, with the backing of a local affiliate of progressive movement Our Revolution, is ready to keep moving forward, as evidenced by the house party thrown at the Bangor residence of backers Bill Wood and Clare Mundell on Friday, March 2nd.
The intention of the party was for local Democrats to get to know Jonathan and get a better sense of his ideals and plans for Maine. After a brief mingling of guests, everyone sat down and gave Jonathan a chance to introduce himself.
After working as a farmer for most of his life, Fulford got into politics for one simple reason: creating a better future for his grandchildren. “There was a day where I looked down at my grandkids, and I realized I simply couldn’t give them hope,” Jonathan explained solemnly. “There’s a lot of reasons for this, but climate change is the biggest one.” Like many Americans, Fullford was inspired by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who showed him that there was room for grassroots, progressive candidates.
“I ran against [Mike Thibodeau] because there’s a need for systemic change, and I think people really responded to that,” mused Fullford over a plate of cheese and crackers. A supporter of clean elections, single-payer healthcare, and combating climate change, Fullford “lost by less than half of one percent in a race where everyone said that I didn’t have a chance” (he lost by a mere 135 votes, which is closer to .7%), and unlike a lot of Democrats following the 2016 election, Fullford didn’t lose hope.
“A lot of people just assume that when you lose in politics, that’s it. But you have to keep going, because there’s still work you can do and things you can fight for,” Fulford regarded with amusement. After the election, Fulford took to campaigning for things like campaign finance reform, seeing lobbyists as one of the major problems as politics before deciding to run against Bruce Poliquin. (In one instance, Fullford actually attempted to get Poliquin to agree to run a clean election, only to end up sliding the flyer under the door of his office when Poliquin wouldn’t respond.)
But how does Fulford intend to beat Poliquin? By appealing to the same voter base that helped Bernie Sanders win the Maine caucus. “If you look at the turnout in those caucuses, a lot of Bernie’s voters were people who hadn’t voted in 30 years, or even in their lifetime, who had felt disrespected and ignored by politicians on every side of the spectrum, and they showed up for him and helped him win in a landslide,” Fulford explained excitedly. “And I think that if I can get those voters to show up and root for me the same way they rooted for Bernie, we can beat Poliquin.”
Of course, whether Fulford will get this chance depends on if he can win the primaries, which will be held on Tuesday, June 12th.