ORONO, Maine — Shotgunning beer is often a communal act. For that reason, there's a level of vulnerability involved. Nobody wants to mess it up and be the person whose shirt is covered in beer.
That vulnerability increases when you're running for United States Congress and you're shotgunning in front of prospective voters, a position Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, the incumbent candidate for Maine's second congressional district seat, found himself in at a University of Maine homecoming tailgate last weekend.
OxfordLanguages definition of shotgunning: consume (a canned drink) in one go by puncturing the can, putting one’s mouth over the resulting hole, and then opening the can by means of the ring pull to produce a rapid flow.
“He said something about how he’s always in the public eye and everything he does is looked at under a microscope or something, and I was like, ‘Well, in all reality, if you were to shotgun, you’d just show all the kids my age that you’re personable,'" Cameron Pottle, a UMaine senior from Steuben who is studying marketing and sports management, said.
Pottle is the man with the mullet, and he's the one who asked Golden to have a beer "for the lobsterman." The moment was caught on camera and shared on Facebook by Pottle, whose family is part of the fishing community in Maine's second congressional district.
“The morning after homecoming I went home and went out on the lobster boat, too," Pottle said. "I was on the boat the next morning at 4 o’clock.”
Pottle said he got to the tailgate around 10:30 a.m. Saturday and found out Golden had a tent nearby. After meeting the congressman, Pottle asked him if he would shotgun a beer, and Golden initially declined, citing the time of day. But Pottle was persistent.
He said he returned to Golden's tent several times throughout the day, sometimes bringing friends. Around 2 p.m., Pottle said Golden told him, "I'll do it."
"Another reason why he didn’t want to is because he said he hadn’t done it since he was probably my age," Pottle recalled. "I did tell him that I’d go slow and make him look good. But he definitely has to practice cracking it with it facing up in the air and not sideways, so nothing spills out. That’s my only critique.”
Although the congressman's shotgunning speed was nothing to write home about, and his form needs a little work, there was minimal spillage, and he appeared to finish the beer, which was a Bud Light. Pottle said Golden had been drinking Baxter beer earlier in the day.
Not everyone loved the move. One of Golden's opponents, independent candidate Tiffany Bond, shared the video on Twitter Monday.
"Maybe he can host your tailgates and I can go to work for you?" Bond wrote.
When asked about the video and Bond's response, Golden's campaign fired back saying "Mainers like that Jared is a regular person."
"Working hard is something folks who live in the 2nd district have in common," Golden for Congress Senior Advisor Bobby Reynolds said in a statement. "A young man from a fishing family asked Jared to shotgun a beer in support of lobstermen. Jared was happy to join him.”
The campaign for Golden's Republican challenger, Bruce Poliquin, had no comment.
“I do think it had a good impact on our viewing of him,” Pottle said of voters his age.
The other aspect of the video that caught viewers' attention was Pottle's mullet, which one NEWS CENTER Maine commenter described as "righteous." Pottle said he started growing it last November. Since then, it's been a journey with ups and downs.
“I was talking to one of my friends on the baseball team, Colin Fitzgerald, and I told him I wanted a mullet. And he just coached me on how to do it," Pottle said. "He just told me how to trust the process and just let it grow out. And like, there’s going to be some rough times, but just stick through it [and] it’ll all work out.”
“I made the plan to grow it around like November, but then around April or May people were actually saying like, ‘Oh, nice mullet,’ rather than like, ‘What is your hair?” he added.