Trump-endorsed NASCAR driver wins key GOP primary in Maine


Maine State Rep. Austin Theriault, a Republican better known as a former NASCAR driver and 2019 ARCA Menards Series champion, was projected Tuesday to win the Republican nomination for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

He defeated Marine veteran Mike Soboleski in the district, which covers a plurality of the state, including much of its rural expanse. 

Theriault, who was endorsed by former President Trump, said during his campaign that people are looking for candidates with experience in business, like the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and himself.

Theriault’s hometown of Fort Kent is known both as the “other” ‘Mile 0’ of US Route 1 — versus Key West, Fla. — and a key international border crossing.

To that end, Theriault made border security a hallmark of his campaign.

TOP HOUSE REPUBLICAN ENDORSES FORMER NASCAR DRIVER IN CONTENTIOUS MAINE RACE

Austin Theriault, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on July 29, 2016 in Newton, Iowa.  (Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)

“I know that we live thousands of miles away from the southern border, but it’s a huge issue because of the drugs coming across and the human trafficking,” he told WMTW.

Theriault, who also raced a handful of times in NASCAR’s marquee cup series, will face “blue dog” Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine in November.

Golden, who notably split his 2019 votes on Trump’s two impeachment counts at the time, represents a district that also leans to the right for New England.

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Since the early 1900s, the district has flipped from blue to red and back every few terms. Golden has been in the seat since he defeated Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, in 2018. 

Golden’s win over Poliquin at the time was an early test of the controversial ranked-choice voting practice adopted by a growing list of states since then.

In his Monday endorsement of Theriault, Trump said Golden wrongly “poses as a bipartisan politician,” while the Republican nominee, “will work hard to secure the border, protect our always under siege Second Amendment, stop crime, cut taxes and defend our brave law enforcement.”

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Theriault’s last big win came in 2017 when he won what is now called the Hard Rock Bet 200, a premier ARCA race during Daytona’s Speedweeks at the proverbial “World Center of Racing.”

The 2nd Congressional District has a Cook PVI of R+6, which casts Golden as a vulnerable Democrat come November.



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