1-sided rematch in Portland's House District 38

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PORTLAND — The election is House District 38 is a rematch from 2014.

And, just like two years ago, only one candidate is actively campaigning.

Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Matthew Moonen, 32, of Neal Street, is seeking his third term in the Legislature. Moonen is the executive director at Equality Maine.

Moonen’s opponent, Republican Thomas Loring, did not respond to several requests from The Forecaster for an interview, a repeat of his performance in 2014.

District 38 covers the city’s West End. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Action against LePage

When asked about an obscene voicemail left by Republican Gov. Paul LePage for state Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, Moonen said he had voted in favor of impeachment proceedings against LePage and would again.

“I think he is completely dysfunctional when it comes to running a government …” Moonen said, adding that some of LePage’s actions have been “certainly unethical, if not illegal.”

Opioid crisis

Moonen said a combination of strategies is needed to combat the growing opioid crisis in the state, including enforcement and more treatment options, and he would advocate using surplus in the state budget to fund both.

No. 1 problem

Moonen said while “everything is important” to the Legislature, he said budget priorities, as well as the drug crisis, are the most important issues facing the Legislature. He said the way to address priorities comes from conversations about tax policy, and Moonen has served on the taxation committee.

“People have very strong partisan opinions of what taxes should and shouldn’t be, what’s a fair share for people to pay,” he said. “But that’s also a committee where we’ve been able to find some agreement on some things,” including an increase in meals and lodging taxes, which had bipartisan support since both would impact tourists more than residents.

Clinton vs. Trump

Moonen said he is supporting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for president, as he has been a longtime supporter. She is “obviously the smarter candidate, obviously the more qualified candidate,” Moonen said.

Key local issue

Moonen said the drug crisis is also a key local issue.

“Twice in the past three years I’ve had someone pass out from drug use in front of my house,” Moonen said. “… When things are happening frequently enough that you’re seeing it multiple times in front of your own house and your neighbors are seeing it and they’re calling you about it, I think that would be the No. 1 thing.”

Referendum questions

Moonen said he supports Question 1, which seeks to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana as an agricultural product, because he thinks “the War on Drugs and the criminalization of marijuana has been a total and complete failure.”

He supports Question 2, which which would establish a 3 percent tax on household incomes of more than $200,000 to fund education, because it would be a strong message from voters that they expect the legislature to follow an earlier mandate and fund 55 percent of the cost of education.

He called Question 3, which would require background checks for the sale and transfer of guns, calling it a “common sense issue.” 

He supports Question 4, which seeks to eventually raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, because he said the current minimum wage is “catastrophically low.”

Moonen said he is undecided on Question 5, which would establish ranked choice voting in the state. He said it’s been an interesting experiment in Portland for local elections, but doesn’t think it will be the “magic cure” its supporters think it will be.

Moonen supports Question 6, which would authorize the state to borrow $100 million for transportation projects.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.


Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.