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Republicans seek to unseat Democrat in Maine district rocked by Lewiston shooting

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Two Republican state lawmakers, one endorsed by former President Donald Trump, are seeking the chance to try to unseat one of the most conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives in a Maine district rocked by a mass shooting last year.

The two members of the Maine House of Representatives face each other Tuesday in a Republican primary. They are Austin Theriault, of Fort Kent, who is backed by Trump, and Mike Soboleski, of Phillips, who is also a supporter of the former president.

The winner will face three-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, which has handed an electoral vote to Trump in the last two elections. The district was also the site of a mass shooting that killed 18 in Lewiston in October.

Theriault and Soboleski both vowed to be a stronger protector of the Second Amendment than Golden in the months since the shooting, which motivated Maine Democrats to approve a battery of new gun control laws. Golden, who has also long fashioned himself as a protector of gun rights, came out in support of an assault weapons ban after the Lewiston shooting but has said he would not have voted for changes such as expanding background checks and creating penalties for illegal gun sales.

Economic development, inflation and immigration have also factored into the primary campaign, but gun control is clearly a major factor on voters’ minds, said Mark Brewer, a political scientist with the University of Maine.

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