Chellie Marie Pingree (/ˈʃɛli ˈpɪŋɡr/ SHELL-ee PING-gree; née Johnson; born April 2, 1955) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Maine’s 1st congressional district since 2009.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, her 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 for her last four years. She was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, losing to incumbent Republican Susan Collins. From 2003 until 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 Rochelle Marie Johnson, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Harry and Dorothy Johnson. She moved to Maine as a teenager and had her first name legally changed to Chellie. 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 resided on North Haven, a small island community off the coast of 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.[1]

Common Cause

As the leader of Common Cause, Pingree was active in the organization’s programs in media reform, and elections, ethics, and money in politics. She supported 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.[2]

Maine Senate


Pingree was first elected in 1992.[3] She was outspoken against going to war against Iraq,[4] although counseled by party insiders to avoid that subject. She won re-election in 1994[5] and 1996. In 2000, she was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.[6]


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 gained nationwide headlines when she authored the nation’s first bill regulating prescription drug prices, Maine Rx.[7] Pingree also shepherded Maine’s largest land-bill initiative, Land for Maine’s Future.[8]

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 17%.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives

Pingree during the 111th Congress



In April 2007, Pingree filed papers for her bid to run for Maine’s 1st congressional district.[10]

On August 15, 2007, EMILY’s List endorsed Pingree’s campaign for Congress in Maine’s 1st district.[11][12] In December 2007 she received the endorsement of 21st Century Democrats.[13] 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; progressive writer and activist Jim Hightower; the United Auto Workers; Planned Parenthood, and the League of Conservation Voters.[14]

Pingree was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2008. She was sworn in to Congress on January 6, 2009.[15]


In 2010, she 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.[citation needed]


On February 29, 2012, an Associated Press story mentioned that Pingree was starting to circulate petitions to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Olympia Snowe, which she confirmed on The Rachel Maddow Show later that night.[16] She withdrew her name from the race on March 7 and ran for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.[17]


In 2016, Pingree defeated Republican challenger Mark Holbrook by around 16 points.[18]


In late 2017, Pingree’s name was mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate for governor of Maine, to succeed term-limited incumbent Paul Lepage. In mid-December, she announced plans to run for re-election to the House.[19] Pingree again faced Holbrook in the 2018 general election.[20] The race was not considered competitive, and she defeated Holbrook by around 26 points.[21]


Pingree was re-elected in 2020.[22]


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 at Portland International Jetport disembarking from a private jet owned by her then-fiancé, hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman. This drew criticism due to past statements made by Pingree critical of legislators using private aircraft. Pingree declined to respond.[23][24] The House Ethics Committee, in a bipartisan letter, stated the travel was permissible under House ethics rules.[25]

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 in to her decision.[26]

Legislation sponsored

On May 23, 2013, Pingree introduced in the United States House of Representatives the York River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2013 (H.R. 2197; 113th Congress). 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.[27] The study would be to determine how the proposed designation would affect current recreational and commercial activities.[28] The study would cost approximately $500,000.[29]

Committee assignments


Caucus memberships

Political positions

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.[35]

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.[36] Pingree has spoken out against the 2011 Supreme Court ruling McComish v. Bennett which limited public financing systems for congressional candidate campaigns.[36]

Pingree has consistently voted against resolutions promoting aggressive foreign policy.[37] 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.[37]

In 2017, Pingree did not attend the inauguration of Donald Trump and instead visited a Planned Parenthood center and a business owned by immigrants. She attended the 2017 Women’s March the following day and stood on stage with other politicians who had also refused to attend the inauguration.[38] In July 2019, Pingree joined 95 Democrats voting for an impeachment resolution against Trump. Maine representative Jared Golden and 136 other Democrats joined with their Republican colleagues to kill the resolution.[39]

In July 2019, Pingree voted against H. Res. 246 – 116th Congress, a House Resolution introduced by Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) opposing efforts to boycott the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel.[40] The resolution passed 398-17.[41]

On December 18, 2019, Pingree voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump from office.[42]

Electoral history

Chellie PingreeDemocratic205,62954.90%Charlie SummersRepublican168,93045.10%
2010[44]Democratic169,11456.82%Dean ScontrasRepublican128,50143.17%OtherOther420.01%
2012[45]Democratic236,36364.79%Jonathan CourtneyRepublican128,44035.21%
2014[46]Democratic186,30960.3%Isaac MisiukRepublican94,84730.7%Richard MurphyOther27,6699.0%
2016[47]Democratic227,54657.9%Mark HolbrookRepublican164,56942.1%James BouchardLibertarian14,5513.6%
2018[48]Democratic198,85358.8%Mark HolbrookRepublican109,71432.4%Martin GrohmanIndependent29,5698.7%
2008 U.S. House Democratic primary, 1st district of Maine
Democratic Chellie Pingree 24,324 43.9
DemocraticAdam Cote15,70628.3
DemocraticMichael Brennan6,04010.9
DemocraticEthan Strimling5,83310.5
DemocraticMark Lawrence2,7264.9
DemocraticSteve Meister7531.3
Total votes55,382 100
Maine U.S. Senate Election 2002
RepublicanSusan Collins (incumbent)299,26658.4
DemocraticChellie Pingree205,90141.6

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,[26] in a private ceremony at the couple’s home in North Haven, Maine.[49]

Until June 1, 2015, Sussman owned a 75%[50] 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.[51] Articles in those papers that discussed Pingree carried a disclaimer noting her marriage to Sussman.[26][52]

Sussman completed the sale of his stake in MaineToday Media on June 1.[53]

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”. The two divorced in the summer of 2016.[54]

Pingree is a co-owner, along with her daughter Hannah, of the Nebo Lodge Inn & Restaurant on Maine’s North Haven Island.[55]

See also


  1. ^ a b “About Chellie”. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  2. ^ Griffin, Walter (October 3, 2008). “Chellie Pingree: Maine island living shapes longtime politician’s views”. Bangor Daily News.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Kyle, Bruce (November 10, 1994). “Hard wins, tough defeats for parties in Knox County”. Bangor Daily News.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Phinney, David (April 17, 2002). “House cancels Pingree’s talk on Rx program”. Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. ^ “U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree Fighting for Change in Washington DC”. Archived from the original on 2013-06-12. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
  9. ^ “2002 ELECTION STATISTICS”. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  10. ^ Announcement to run for Congress Boston Globe, April 6, 2007; accessed 2008-03-05
  11. ^ EMILY’s List Announces Endorsement of Chellie Pingree for Maine 1st District EMILY’S List, press release Accessed 2008-03-05
  12. ^ Chellie Pingree U.S. House, ME Archived 2008-07-26 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed February 15, 2017.
  13. ^ Pingree Announces Endorsements Archived 2008-02-22 at the Wayback Machine December 20, 2007; accessed 2008-03-05
  14. ^ Complete list of endorsements Archived 2008-01-25 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 2008-03-05.
  15. ^ “New Faces of Congress: The House”, New York Times; accessed January 9, 2009.
  16. ^ “Sen. Snowe’s Retirement Causes Maine Scramble”. The New York Times. February 29, 2012.
  17. ^ Livingston, Abby (March 7, 2012). “Maine: Chellie Pingree Passes on Senate Bid”. Roll Call.
  18. ^ “Maine’s 1st Congressional District election, 2016”. Ballotpedia. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  19. ^ “Pingree says she won’t run for governor in 2018”. Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  20. ^ “Maine primary election results 2018: Governor, Senate and House races”. Washington Post. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  21. ^ “Maine’s 1st Congressional District election, 2016”. Ballotpedia. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  22. ^ Ohm, Rachel (2020-11-04). “Pingree declares victory in Maine’s 1st Congressional District”. Press Herald. Retrieved 2020-11-05.
  23. ^ Russell, Eric (2010-09-24). “Pingree takes heat for rides on fiance’s plane”. Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  24. ^ “Congresswoman Pingree’s Travel Record Criticized”. WPFO. 2010-09-24. Archived from the original on 2010-09-26. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  25. ^ Staff (2010-09-28). “Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree’s jet travel cleared by ethics panel”. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  26. ^ a b c Kevin Miller (2013-04-27). “Chellie Pingree says she won’t run for Maine governorl”. Kennebec Journal. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
  27. ^ “CBO – H.R. 2197”. Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  28. ^ “H.R. 2197 – Summary”. United States Congress. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  29. ^ McDermott, Deborah (30 January 2013). “Renewed effort aims to designate York River ‘Wild and Scenic. Seacoast Online. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  30. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  31. ^ “Membership”. Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  32. ^ “Members”. Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  33. ^ Twitter Member list
  34. ^ “Our Members”. U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  35. ^ “Pingree, Poliquin block Obama’s desired fast-track on trade deal”. Bangor Daily News. 2015-06-12. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
  36. ^ a b Pingree, Chellie (June 27, 2011). “Congress needs Fair Elections Now”. The Hill.
  37. ^ a b “Chellie Pingree: Key Votes”. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  38. ^ Walters, Joanna (January 20, 2017). “Women’s March organizers prepare for hundreds of thousands of protesters”. The Guardian. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  39. ^ “House votes to kill impeachment resolution against Trump”. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  40. ^ Clare Foran. “Who voted ‘no’ on the House resolution opposing Israel boycott movement”. CNN. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  41. ^ Schneider, Bradley Scott (2019-07-23). “H.Res.246 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel”. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  42. ^ Panetta, Grace. “WHIP COUNT: Here’s which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump”. Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  43. ^ “ME – District 1 Race – Nov 04, 2008”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  44. ^ “ME – District 1 Race – Nov 02, 2010”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  45. ^ “ME – District 1 Race- Nov 06, 2012”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  46. ^ “Maine Election Results 2014”. The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  47. ^ “2016 Maine House Election Results”. Politico. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  48. ^ “Maine Election Results: First House District”. The New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  49. ^ Riskind, Jonathan. “Pingree, Sussman wed”. Portland Press Herald. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  50. ^ “Sussman-owned group acquires 75 percent share of MaineToday Media”. Bangor Daily News. March 27, 2012. Retrieved Jan 2, 2020.
  51. ^ “Chellie Pingree’s husband gives boost to MaineToday Media”. Bangor Daily News. February 10, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  52. ^ “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 September 12, 2015.
  53. ^ “Midcoast owner completes purchase of MaineToday newspapers”. Bangor Daily News. June 1, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  54. ^ “Maine Democrats find help elsewhere after megadonor’s exit”. Portland Press Herald. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  55. ^ Sekules, Kate. “Maine Vacation: An Amazing Ultra-Locavore Lodge”. Food & Wine Magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2013.


  • Wright, Virginia. “Maine’s Newest Political Dynasty”. Down East: The Magazine of Maine (January 2009).

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by

Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maine
(Class 2)

Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine’s 1st congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by