Maine State Representative Mike Soboleski (R-Phillips) is considering challenging Rep. Jared Golden in the 2024 race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
Rep. Soboleski, a Marine Corps veteran, is serving his first term representing House District 73, having been elected in 2022, defeating Democrat Vincent House.
While Rep. Golden portrays himself as a moderate, Soboleski says that he is enabling the Biden administration to make decisions that have taken a toll on the nation’s and on Maine’s economy.
I asked Rep. Soboleski about the most important issues facing Maine, the 2nd Congressional District, and the nation today in an exclusive interview — covering the economy, immigration, homelessness, growing the state’s small businesses, and why he thinks he is the right person for CD-2 to send to Congress.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, would you like to take a moment to introduce yourself to give our readers more of a familiarity with who you are and what you stand for?
Well, thank you very much Edward for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here. Mike Soboleski, I represent the 73rd District in the western mountains. My district is one of the largest ones in the state, it goes from just west of Bethel and Gilead, over to Kingfield, up past Jackman to Moose River and Dennistown. It’s the only district that borders both New Hampshire and Canada.
We’re primarily a recreational tourism, forestry, and small business district, and it’s a pleasure, it’s a great honor to be able to represent the people of the 73rd District down in the State Legislature.
So am I correct in saying that you’re considering a run against Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District?
I am considering a run in CD-2. I’ve received numerous calls and encouragement from across my district and CD-2, from people with their concerns about what’s happening right now in our nation and in our state.
And I’ve been asked if I would consider running for Congress, and right now, I’m looking into it, and we’re moving forward with making a decision one way or the other.
And what are some of those issues that your constituents have reached out to you about, facing your district?
Well, the number one issue is of course the economy. The economy is incredibly important to people. We have higher taxes, out of control spending, excessive regulations, the additional expenses that it’s costing people to run their homes every year is hurting people badly. And that’s the number one issue that people are facing right now that I hear about, is the economy.
The security of our border, and the infiltration into our country. The people that are coming in, they’re being forced into our cities, and thereby being forced out into our rural areas.
We’ve seen it many times already on the news, the distress from cities now that were welcoming so early on — Chicago, the State of Massachusetts, New York City — that were welcoming them all in as a humanitarian effort. Now they’re all scrambling to try and find a way to house them, clothe them, feed them, find medical support for them.
That is a very big issue on a lot of voters minds, as well as our parental rights. The government is deciding what goes into our kids’ minds and our kids’ bodies. The teachers don’t own these children, the principals don’t own these children, the schools don’t, the school boards, the state and the federal government do not own these children. Parents own these children, and parents are the ones that should be making the decisions as to what’s right for our kids.
So just to get into your record serving in the State Legislature in the House. One of the measures that you supported, I believe it was sponsored by Senator Brakey, was putting time limits on municipal General Assistance benefits. Are there other things that you’ve done during your time in the House that would address the migrant crisis that we’ve seen in the state, in places like Sanford, and especially in Portland? Because we are taking a huge amount of these asylum seekers, having to move them from shelter to shelter, and there’s also an ongoing homelessness crisis in the cities.
There is a homelessness crisis in these cities — even before this had happened. And it was important for us to take steps and measures to address that. But like you said, bringing more people into the state is compounding that.
The governor’s new office for immigration is looking at bringing 75,000 more people into the State of Maine. It’s too much, we can’t handle that. Our cities are already becoming overfull — Bangor, Portland, Lewiston, Auburn — they’re in deep trouble.
They’re trying now — they just recently tried to move other people out of Portland to Unity, and fortunately that was stopped. They’re trying to move them into Presque Isle. So they’re trying to move more people into our state and exacerbate the problem, when we should be slowing down and allowing our economy to catch up with the problems that we have.
Everything has doubled, our electric bills have doubled, our fuel has doubled, our heating costs have doubled. So the people in the State of Maine are already under enough stress, without having to be under the stress of bringing more people into the state.
Another issue that’s that’s facing the state right now is fentanyl — and this is intertwined with the homelessness crisis, because a lot of the homeless people are addicted to and abusing these drugs. And a lot of it comes over from the border. I took it from your statement earlier that you would support stronger border security. Do you think that that would have a positive effect on reducing the fentanyl that’s coming into the state?
No question that it would have an effect. And the way we’re handling it right now in the nation and in the state needs to be looked at seriously.
Providing more Narcan, providing safe injection sites, handing out needles or things of that nature, safe needles — that’s not the way to handle this, this only exacerbates and propels the problem on down the road.
We need to secure our border, we need to finish the wall. And we need to put an end to the trafficking that’s coming over the border, not only of human trafficking, but drug trafficking as well. And I believe the very first, best step in that is to secure the border.
Representative Golden has recently — and throughout his term — taken flak from liberals in Maine for some of his more fiscally conservative positions. Just recently he was attacked by the Maine Beacon for voting to block President Biden’s student loan relief program. What do you think of Golden’s record in Congress? And how do you think you would vote differently?
Well, Jared Golden is a politician — I’m not. He voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which has not reduced inflation. He voted for D.C. statehood. And as a politician, he’s convinced some people he is a moderate, and he’s not.
Jared Golden votes with his party the majority of time, I think it’s close to 80 percent, somewhere in that range, yet he tries to pull himself off as a moderate. He enables the Biden administration.
I haven’t seen him come out against what’s happening with our economy. He hasn’t come out against the border, and the problems that are down there. So he’s not doing a good job as far as that goes.
I have life experience that looks and feels a lot like the people of this district. And I listen to them, and I hear them at a grassroots level. I talk with them face to face and travel throughout the district, and I’ve traveled throughout CD-2. I know what they want. I know what they need to make their lives better. And I believe that I’m the man for the job. That’s why we’re moving forward with a decision.
You’ve mentioned that you’re an avid outdoorsman, you’re a member of the Sportsmen Alliance of Maine. Maine has a rich history of responsible and legal gun ownership, and hunting. And of course, it’s very important in the 2nd Congressional District. What has been your record while in the House on gun control measures? And how would you vote if you get elected into Congress?
As a member of the NRA, I have an A-Q rating. They haven’t analyzed any of the votes that I’ve had on bills down at the State House yet, so I have an A rating. I stand very hard behind the Second Amendment. I would not do anything that would interfere with the Second Amendment in any way. I support gun ownership, gun rights, I will support the Second Amendment completely.
What are some of your plans to try and bring infrastructure spending into Maine on the federal level, and funding that would help small businesses in your district? Recently, Maine got approved for millions and millions of federal funding for broadband access. We’ve had disaster declarations for the flooding and infrastructure damage that happened in the spring. How would you work as a Congressman to help bring that federal funding into Maine?
Recently I’ve been dealing with the June 26 storm that we had in both Oxford and Franklin Counties. I’ve been down to Oxford, I’ve toured the damages down there, and working with MEMA, the Maine Emergency Management Agency, working with FEMA, in conjunction with Senator Collins’ office to make sure that we had the paperwork correct.
That paperwork has just been filed recently, I was on the phone with both MEMA and the senator’s office yesterday — the request has gone in to help with that damage, to do those repairs. And we’re looking forward to getting that moved, I know the governor has already sent that in, I think that’s going to make a big difference there.
As far as the State of Maine and our economy, growing our economy, I think the best thing that we can do there is get the government out of it, get the state out of it. Let our businessmen do business, without being fed up with too many rules and regulations. Deregulation I think is incredibly important when it comes to advancing business in our state, and that’s what I would be looking at.
Cutting down regulations, getting more money in so we can take care of the businesses that we have. Adding new business is a good thing to do, but we need to make sure that we take care of the people who are here now, so that they can grow their businesses. They’re the backbone of our state, they’re the backbone of our country. So I think it’s important we make sure that we can fund those guys and get them every opportunity that we can.
One thing I want to ask you about, on the state level, is this past legislative session. Now, the Democrats achieved many victories throughout this past session. Just to name three, we had the gender affirming care for 16 and 17 year olds without parental parental permission bill, we had Governor Mills’ late term abortion bill go through, we had the paid family leave bill go through — what were your opinions on any of those measures, and where the Democrats are taking the state?
I serve on both the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, as well as Labor and Housing. Paid family leave came before us in Labor and Housing. And when you got into the actual wording, and the language in that bill, it wasn’t so much paid family leave. They could have left the word family out and just called it paid leave. That’s going to be an incredible tax on our businesses.
It’s one percent of the payroll for the State of Maine, the total payroll, not the state payroll, but for the payroll in the State of Maine. That payroll is about $38 billion a year. So one percent of that going into the paid family leave, that’s nearly $400 million.
In that legislation was an affinity clause, which means you don’t have to be family in order to take advantage of that at all. I could come and take advantage of that bill, just to take care of you. The safety clause in that bill states that it doesn’t have to be for a medical emergency. I can do that if you are afraid, just to provide you comfort, to help you find an attorney, to help you secure your home, to help you file a restraining order.
There are a number of different things in there that passed on party lines. It was a robust discussion in both the public hearing and in the work session, and unfortunately, it passed along party lines. They didn’t have an actuary already, it was one of those bills where we need to pass it in order to figure out what it’s going to — how we’re going to do it, and that was kinda too bad that that had happened.
The abortion bill, that again, was a very difficult debate. We had a lot of people that came down to the State House, I think there were between 2,500 and 3,000 people that came in that day. I was there late into the night, outside making sure that everyone got welcomed, telling people ‘don’t leave,’ because they stretched that on so long.
There were over 600 people testifying against that, I think right around 100 or less than 100 testifying in favor. And they ran it so late, they were trying to get people to leave. So it was a real chore to make sure that everyone got to say their piece. We provided them with food, we provided them with coffee, with drinks, whatever they want to make them as comfortable as possible, so they would stay and say their piece.
In the end, unfortunately, I thought we had it won, I thought we were going to vote that down. But it didn’t end up being that way, and LD 1619 passed. Abortion had already been decided in the State of Maine. We had abortion laws that worked for the public, it worked for the State of Maine. I was sad to see that get changed.
The first GOP primary debate is tonight, we’re going to have eight candidates there. Trump, of course, decided not to do the debate, and will be doing a separate interview with Tucker Carlson. Which one will you be watching, if you’re going to watch either? And do you have any predictions on how the debate is going to go? Or any general thoughts on how this primary is shaping up?
Well, thank you for that question, Edward, I appreciate that. Quite frankly, I need to mow my lawn. So I’m not sure if I’m going to be watching that, I’ve been very, very busy.
As far as whether he should be in that debate or not, that’s a personal question for him to make. He knows his platform. People know his platform. He’s out there right now. President Trump leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to his opinion, or his policies, or his direction that he’s going to take our nation if he gets elected to be president again.
So I believe that he’s going to make the right decision for what he feels that he should do. An interview with Tucker Carlson, that’s always a treat to watch. They’re both great personalities, so I am looking forward to, if I don’t get to watch that tonight, I’ll be making sure that I watch that online tomorrow.