Former Maine State Rep. Sue Bernard (R-Caribou) will make another run for State Senate, according to a statement she released officially declaring her candidacy this week for Senate District One in Aroostook County.
“If you had asked me just one month ago if I would run again, I would have said positively not. The last campaign by too long and too difficult—it was the most challenging Senate race in the State,” Bernard said in an email to supporters.
“But it became clear to me that there’s no such thing as losing. As long as you get up, there’s only winning or learning,” she said.
Bernard, a former TV news reporter who represented District 149 from 2020 to 2022, was narrowly defeated by Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) in the last state election cycle.
That race attracted statewide and even national attention owing to the vast sums of out-of-state money that poured into Maine’s airwaves to attack Bernard and boost Jackson.
Although Jackson ran as a taxpayer-funded candidate, and was therefore prohibited from raising money from outside sources himself, outside groups aligned with the Maine Democrats and Jackson’s labor union allies spent heavily to get him elected.
Outside groups spent more than $808,000 helping Jackson get elected, according to Maine campaign finance records.
Jackson’s reliance on outside money to win the Aroostook district was more than a little ironic considering he has been a vocal critic of outside money influencing elections.
The use of money to influence a Maine Senate election also raised questions about the Maine Clean Elections Act program, the taxpayer-funded program that allows politicians to pay for campaign materials using taxpayer dollars. Although backers of the program believe it helps limit the flow of money into politics, Jackson’s 2022 campaign against Bernard stands as a glaring rebuke to those claims.
Even despite the lopsided money dynamic, Bernard presented a real threat to Jackson, who had served in political offices for nearly two decades.
On Election Day, Jackson only beat Bernard by five percent of the vote.
“The measure of success and strength is when you try again,” Bernard said. “So that’s what I’m going to do; I’m going to try again armed with more experience and conviction than before.”
Bernard said her legislative priorities would include advocating for small businesses and entrepreneurs and supporting strong families.
Jackson is termed-limited out of running for the seat again and has yet to announce his plans for the future. No other candidate has so far declared their intention to run against Bernard.