Chellie Pingree

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Chellie Pingree
Chellie Pingree.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 1st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2009
Preceded by Tom Allen
Member of the Maine Senate
In office
December 31, 1992 – December 31, 2000
Personal details
Born (1955-04-02) April 2, 1955 (age 63)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charlie Pingree (Divorced)
Donald Sussman (m. 2011–present, separated)
Children Hannah
Residence North Haven, Maine
Alma mater College of the Atlantic
University of Southern Maine
Religion LutheranELCA[1]
Website Personal website

Chellie Pingree (born April 2, 1955) is an American politician.[2] She is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maine's 1st congressional district since 2009. The district includes most of the southern part of the state, including Portland and Augusta.

Pingree was a member of the Maine Senate from 1992 to 2000, serving as majority leader from 1996 to 2000. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, losing to Republican Susan Collins. From 2003 to 2006, she was President and CEO of Common Cause. She is the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine.

Early life, education, and early career

Pingree was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but has lived in Maine since she was a teenager. She attended the University of Southern Maine and graduated from College of the Atlantic with a degree in Human Ecology. Since graduating from College of the Atlantic, she has lived in North Haven, a small island community 12 miles off Rockland.

Pingree held various farming and care-taking jobs until 1981, when she started North Island Yarn, a cottage industry of hand knitters with a retail store on North Haven. Her business expanded and became North Island Designs, employing as many as ten workers. They began marketing knitting kits and pattern books nationwide through 1,200 retail stores and 100,000 mail order catalogues. Through North Island Designs, Pingree authored and produced five knitting books between 1986 and 1992. Eisenhower Fellowships selected Chellie Pingree as a USA Eisenhower Fellow in 1997.

Common Cause

As the leader of Common Cause, Pingree strengthened the organization's programs in media reform and elections, while maintaining programs in ethics and money in politics. Among the specific issues she championed at Common Cause are Net Neutrality; Mandatory Voter-Verified Paper Ballots; Public Financing of Congressional Elections; National Popular Vote (a work-around of the Electoral College), and an Independent Ethics Commission for Congress. She stepped down from Common Cause in February 2007 to return to her home state and run for Congress in 2008.[3]

Maine Senate


Pingree was first elected in 1992 at the age of 37, defeating a popular Republican incumbent. She was outspoken against going to war against Iraq, although counseled by party insiders to avoid that subject. She won re-election in 1994[4] and 1996. In 2000, she was forced to leave the Legislature due to term limits.


Pingree served as the Senate Majority Leader in the Maine Senate representing Knox County. She was elected Maine's second female Senate Majority Leader on December 4, 1996.

During her tenure as a state legislator, Pingree led several economic development initiatives including landmark legislation to enhance small business opportunities and keep businesses in Maine. She gained nationwide headlines when she authored the nation's first bill regulating prescription drug prices, Maine Rx. Pingree also shepherded Maine's largest land-bill initiative, Land for Maine's Future.[5]

2002 run for U.S. Senate

In 2002, Pingree made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican junior U.S. Senator Susan Collins. Collins, a popular moderate incumbent, won by a margin of 16%.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives



In April 2007, Pingree filed papers for her bid to run for Maine's 1st congressional district.[7] On August 15, 2007, EMILY's List endorsed Pingree's campaign for Congress in Maine's 1st District.[8][9] In December 2007 she also received the endorsement of 21st Century Democrats.[10] She was endorsed by a number of labor organizations and many individuals and state officials, including Congressman Rush D. Holt, Jr.; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; Maine Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell; former Maine Senate Assistant Majority Leader Anne Rand; State Representative Paulette Beaudoin; State Representative Nancy Smith; progressive writer and activist Jim Hightower; the United Auto Workers; Planned Parenthood, and the League of Conservation Voters.[11]

The top contributors to Pingree's campaign were securities and investment industries, providing roughly $123,900 in funding. Key contributors include Paloma Partners, Caremi Partners, and the J Street PAC.

Pingree was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2008. She was sworn into Congress on January 6, 2009.[12]


In 2010, Pingree ran for reelection, and won, defeating Republican challenger Dean Scontras by a 57–43 margin. She overcame strong anti-Democrat and anti-incumbent political sentiment to become just one of eight Democrats in the House of Representatives to receive a higher percentage of the vote than in 2008.


On February 29, 2012, an Associated Press story mentioned that Pingree was starting to circulate petitions to run for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by the retirement of Olympia Snowe, which she confirmed on The Rachel Maddow Show later that night.[13] She withdrew her name from the race on March 7, indicating that she would run for re-election.[14]


Soon after her election, she joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which she is now vice-chairwoman.

In September 2010, a video surfaced on the internet showing Pingree disembarking in a private jet at Portland International Jetport owned by her then-fiancé, hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman. This drew criticism because of past statements Pingree had made that were critical about legislators using private aircraft.[15][16][17] The House Ethics Committee, in a bipartisan letter, stated the travel was permissible under House ethics rules.[18]

Pingree announced on April 26, 2013 that she would not run for Governor of Maine in the 2014 election. She stated that she was "happy" to serve in the House, and that the possibility of a three-way race also factored into her decision.[19]

Legislation sponsored

On May 23, 2013, Rep. Chellie Pingree introduced the York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2013 (H.R. 2197; 113th Congress) into the United States House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would require the National Park Service (NPS) to study a segment of the York River in the state of Maine for potential addition to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.[20] The study would be to determine how the proposed designation would affect current recreational and commercial activities.[21] The study would cost approximately $500,000.[22]

Committee assignments


Caucus memberships

Congressional Progressive Caucus (Vice-Chair)

Political positions

On her campaign website, Pingree lists supporting small business in Maine, holding banks and credit cards accountable for consumer protection, increasing Maine manufacturing jobs and preventing the overseas outsourcing of these jobs as key elements of her economic strategy.[23] Pingree's goals additionally include working towards health care reform, increasing women's rights and equality in the workplace, acquiring more sources of clean energy, and ending the war in Afghanistan.[23]

Interest group ratings

Pingree consistently receives high approval ratings from labor, pro-choice, and environmental interest groups.[24] In 2010, Pingree received a rating of 100% from the AFL-CIO, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the League of Conservation Voters.[24] Pingree typically receives moderate to low approval ratings from socially and economically conservative groups such as the American Family Association and Citizens Against Government Waste, who in 2009 gave Pingree ratings of 0% and 1% respectively. In 2010 the American political magazine National Journal gave Pingree a Composite Conservative rating of 9%, and a Composite Liberal rating of 92%.[24]


Pingree is opposed to granting the President fast track authority in negotiating trade agreements, having voted against doing so on June 12, 2015. Pingree stated that such agreements needed more transparency and debate, not less. [25]

Other issues

Pingree helped draft the Fair Elections Now Act, a proposal to provide public 'Fair Elections' funding for popular candidates who raised a sufficient number of small local contributions.[26] Pingree has spoken out against the 2011 Supreme Court ruling McComish v. Bennett, which limited public financing systems for congressional candidate campaigns. The representative favors a campaign finance system that provides increased opportunities for candidates who lack the benefits of private interest and independent expenditure committee funding.[26]

Pingree has consistently voted against resolutions promoting aggressive foreign policy.[27] Pingree voted "yea" in March 2011 on a resolution to remove forces from Afghanistan. In June 2011, Pingree voted "yea" on House Resolution 292, preventing President Barack Obama from deploying ground forces in Libya.[27]

Electoral history

Year Office Candidate Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  % Opponent Party Votes  %
2008 [28] Maine's
Chellie Pingree Democratic 205,629 54.90% Charlie Summers Republican 168,930 45.10%
2010 [29] Democratic 169,114 56.82% Dean Scontras Republican 128,501 43.17% Other Other 42 0.01%
2012 [30] Democratic 236,363 64.79% Jonathan Courtney Republican 128,440 35.21%
2014 [31] Democratic 186,309 60.3% Isaac Misiuk Republican 94,847 30.7% Richard Murphy Other 27,669 9.0%
2008 U.S. House Democratic primary, 1st district of Maine
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Chellie Pingree 24,324 43.9
Democratic Adam Cote 15,706 28.3
Democratic Michael Brennan 6,040 10.9
Democratic Ethan Strimling 5,833 10.5
Democratic Mark Lawrence 2,726 4.9
Democratic Steve Meister 753 1.3
Total votes 55,382 100
Maine U.S. Senate Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Susan Collins (incumbent) 299,266 58.4
Democratic Chellie Pingree 205,901 41.6

Personal life

Pingree has three children; the oldest, Hannah Pingree, is the Ex-Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

On June 18, 2011, Pingree married S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager,[19] in a private ceremony at the couple's home in North Haven, Maine. Pingree met Sussman in 2007 and the two became engaged in 2008.[32] Until June 1, 2015, Sussman owned a 5% stake in MaineToday Media, the owners of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel, in addition to sitting on the board of directors. [33] Articles in those papers that discussed Pingree carried a disclaimer noting her marriage to Sussman. [19][34] Sussman completed the sale of his stake in MaineToday Media on June 1st. [35]

Pingree released a statement on September 8, 2015 announcing her separation and beginning of divorce proceedings from Sussman. She called it an "amicable and truly mutual decision". She also revealed she would be using a 30 day grace period to file financial disclosure forms that were due on August 13th, to allow for her to remove Sussman's financial information from them, as it is no longer required according to the House Ethics Committee. The delay had been criticized by the Maine Republican Party prior to her announcement. [36]

Congresswoman Pingree is co-owner of the Nebo Lodge Inn & Restaurant on Maine's North Haven Island.[37]


  1. "Metro Lutheran – 112th Congress opens with new and returning Lutheran representation". Retrieved 12 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "About Chellie". Retrieved 24 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Griffin, Walter (October 3, 2008). "Chellie Pingree: Maine island living shapes longtime politician's views". Bangor Daily News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  7. Announcement to run for Congress Boston Globe, April 6, 2007 Accessed 2008-03-05
  8. EMILY's List Announces Endorsement of Chellie Pingree for Maine 1st District EMILY'S List, press release Accessed 2008-03-05
  9. Chellie Pingree U.S. House, ME EMILY'S List profile
  10. Pingree Announces Endorsements December 20, 2007 Accessed 2008-03-05
  11. Complete list of endorsements Accessed 2008-03-05
  12. New Faces of Congress: The House New York Times Accessed 2009-01-09
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  16. Associated Press (2010-09-24). "Maine Congresswoman Takes Heat For Jet Travel". WBZ-TV. Retrieved 2010-09-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
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  18. Portland Press Herald (2010-09-28). "Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree's jet travel cleared by ethics panel". Retrieved 2010-09-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Kevin Miller (2013-04-27). "Chellie Pingree says she won't run for Maine governorl". Kennebec Journal. Retrieved 2013-04-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  23. 23.0 23.1 Issues "Pingree's campaign website" Accessed 2011-11-20
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Chellie Pingree: Interest Group Rating. Project Vote Smart. Accessed 2011-11-20
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  33. "Chellie Pingree's husband gives boost to MaineToday Media". Bangor Daily News. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Pingree's letter to federal regulators protests Comcast, Time Warner merger – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram. Retrieved 12 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Midcoast owner completes purchase of MaineToday newspapers". Bangor Daily News. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Chellie Pingree, Donald Sussman to end their marriage". Bangor Daily News. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Sekules, Kate (July 2012). "Maine Vacation: An Amazing Ultra-Locavore Lodge". Food & Wine Magazine. Retrieved 6 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Further reading

  • Wright, Virginia. "Maine's Newest Political Dynasty". Down East: The Magazine of Maine (January 2009).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Brennan
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maine
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Tom Allen
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Allen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 1st congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Erik Paulsen
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Jared Polis