At the Androscoggin County Republicans’ 2024 caucus over the weekend, State Rep. Mike Soboleski (R-Phillips) won the caucus’ CD2 primary straw poll by 11.5 percent.
The Saturday caucus gave candidates for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, County Commissioner, State Representative and State Senator an opportunity to make their pitch to the county’s Republican voters.
The straw poll results are among the first indication of how Republican activists view the 2024 GOP primary race for Maine CD2, in which Soboleski is set to face off against his fellow State Rep. Austin Theriault (R-Fort Kent).
Androscoggin County has a large block of conservative voters, with the county being narrowly won by Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage in 2022.
Among 52 caucus-goers, Soboleski (55.7 percent) beat out Theriault (44.2 percent) in Saturday’s Androscoggin County caucus straw poll by 29 to 23, or a margin of 11.5 percent.
“The Republican Party is the party of the people, and represents the forgotten men and women in today’s America,” Soboleski said following the Saturday straw poll. “The 2024 Androscoggin County Caucus is a litmus test of the people’s desire for experienced, forward thinking, and solutions-based leadership.”
“I’m the only 100% rated conservative in this race and I think the poll reflected that,” Soboleski added.
Since entering the race in September 2023, former NASCAR driver Rep. Theriault has boasted endorsements from House Speaker Mike Johnson and House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), and earlier this month claimed to have raised $100,000 in the first two weeks of the fundraising quarter.
“Austin is crisscrossing the district going to caucuses and meeting thousands of primary voters,” Theriault’s campaign manager Shawn Roderick said in a Monday statement to the Maine Wire.
“We’re working hard to gain support in Maine and we’re honored to have raised more than $500k up to this point,” Roderick said. “In order to run a serious race against Jared Golden, we’re going to need serious resources to fight off Mike Bloomberg and other progressive billionaires backing Golden.”
Both Soboleski and Theriault have agreed to participate in three primary debates in advance of the June primary, which will determine which of the two candidates will challenge Democratic Congressman Jared Golden in November.
Maine GOP spokesperson Jason Savage told the Maine Wire last week that one of the debates is planned for the 2024 Maine Republican Party State Convention in April.
Savage said that the GOP has been discussing topics and is looking to hold the debates in a format which will allow the candidates to go “beyond what people will usually see in a TV debate where the candidates only throw out a few soundbites.”