Trump endorses former NASCAR driver in toss-up House race

 March 28, 2024

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has endorsed former NASCAR driver Austin Theriault to take back Maine's 2nd congressional district from the Democrats. 

The endorsement is sure to shake things up in the rural New England district, which Trump won in 2016 and 2020.

The incumbent, Democrat Jared Golden, is a prime target for House Republicans as they look to hold onto their narrow House majority, which has gotten smaller with the resignation of several members.

Trump endorses race car driver

Trump called Golden a radical leftist in a Truth Social post extolling Theriault, a 30-year-old state representative from Fort Kent.

“In Congress, Austin Theriault will work hard to Secure the Border, Protect our always under siege Second Amendment, Stop Crime, Cut Taxes, and Support Law Enforcement, Military, and Veterans,” Trump continued. “Austin Theriault has my Complete and Total Endorsement.”

Trump's endorsement gives Theriault a significant advantage in his primary battle with fellow state legislator Mike Soboleski. Theriault is also being supported by the House Republicans' campaign arm.

“Joe Biden is failing and we need Trump back,” Theriault said. “I’m looking forward to working with President Trump to take Maine’s 2nd Congressional District back for the people. Rural Maine and the working class are hurting badly under Biden and Golden, and they need a real fighter."

The 2nd district is mostly rural and comprises most of Maine north of Portland and Augusta. Trump won the district in 2016 and 2020.

While Maine leans Democratic, its electoral votes are split between the state and Maine's two congressional districts.

Pickup opportunity for Republicans

Golden flipped the 2nd district blue in 2018 after the state switched to ranked-choice voting.

Republicans have a six-point advantage in the district according to Cook Political Report.

Golden dismissed Theriault - who was elected to political office for the first time in 2022 - as a Washington insider.

“I’d rather face a neoliberal like Austin Theriault than another Marine like Mike Soboleski,” Golden told the Washington Examiner.

“But it’s funny that Trump would back someone who just a few years ago was talking about running as a Democrat instead of backing the guy who has supported Trump all along."

"I guess the Washington establishment wants Theriault. Either way, it’s nothing new here for me. I’ve beat Trump-backed candidates before.”

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