A former Navy SEAL who’s seeking to unseat Democratic US Rep. Chellie Pingree apologized for comparing federal fisheries regulators to rapists, saying the statement was “over the top.”
Republican Ed Thelander was called out during a debate Wednesday evening for remarks he made earlier in the day attacking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during a rally for Maine’s lobster industry.
“NOAA wants to rape you and your family, and they are saying pick a child,” he said. “You don’t negotiate with a rapist, and that’s what’s happening.”
Pingree said during the debate that his comments were not productive and dragged the discussion “down into the gutter.”
“My comments were over the top and I apologize for that,” Thelander said. “I’m very passionate about it. I love those families. I’m seeing the struggles they have and nothing has been done about it.”
Pingree, who lives in an island community of North Haven, disputed Thelander’s claim that nothing was being done as Maine officials fight regulations aimed at protecting right whales that could harm lobstermen. “Don’t say I’m not passionate about it,” she said.
The debate in Maine’s 1st Congressional District touched on immigration, the economy, energy, abortion, education and other topics.