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Polls Show Trump’s Support is Falling in the 2nd District — Could That Hurt Poliquin?

A.J. Higgins
Maine Public
Emily Cain at the Bangor Fire Department museum on Monday.

Some polls have shown Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump riding high in Maine’s traditionally more conservative 2nd Congressional District. But at least one national pollster is now saying that recent missteps by Trump are causing him to lose ground in northern Maine.

Whether that loss of support could ultimately hurt incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin remains to be seen, but Democrats are continuing their attack on Poliquin’s record.

From Poliquin’s perspective, it’s one thing to be attacked for opposing a particular piece of legislation. But when Democratic challenger Emily Cain called a press conference to chastise him for not quickly acting to support a 9/11 first responders health care bill that he eventually voted for, Poliquin said she had gone too far.

“I don’t know how Emily Cain sleeps at night,” he said.

Apparently quite soundly, if new assessments of the race by FiveThirtyEight.com are any indicator.

For the last several months, the ESPN-owned opinion poll analysis company has reported that Trump was leading in the 2nd District and could win one of Maine’s four electoral votes. But the site now says that instead of Trump winning by more than 75 percent, he is behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the District — and she has 51 percent of the vote.

Cain’s new offensive on Poliquin includes a television ad that calls him out for failing to quickly support the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act as a co-sponsor in the U.S. House.

Cain supporter John Martell, the president of the Professional Firefighters of Maine, called Poliquin’s eventual vote to support funding of the measure too little, too late.

“He was repeatedly asked over the course of the months ahead to sign on by us and others, the International Association of Firefighters and 9/11 Renew — he didn’t do it,” he said. “When the time came after the bill was passed in the omnibus bill, at the end it included a whole host of other bills to keep government running, that’s when he voted for it and he’s taking credit for it then. When we needed him, he wasn’t there.”

Standing with Bangor firefighters, Cain said her support for first responders as a state legislator is well documented.

“The men and women who rushed into the burning buildings and inhaled toxins cleaning up Manhattan and D.C. and in that field in Pennsylvania deserve our thanks and they deserve the health care they earned by putting their lives on the line when their nation needed them most,” she said.

Poliquin, who did actually vote to support the funding measure, says Cain’s attempt to brand him as an opponent of the bill was wrong and misleading.

“Well I voted to fully fund our first responders and police officers and fire fighters that charged into those burning towers there on 9/11,” he said. “I’ve always stood up to support our firefighters, you know I voted to fund it.”

Whether the race is actually tightening as some pollsters suggest remains to be seen, but Cain says she is clearly experiencing momentum, with new Republican support for her bid only two weeks before the election. Poliquin doesn’t agree, and says Cain and other Democrats are becoming increasingly desperate.

“I think it shows that Emily Cain is a desperate career politician who will do anything or say anything to get elected, and that her chief backer is an extreme San Francisco liberal, Nancy Pelosi. So yeah, they just throw stuff up there and it’s just not true,” he says.

Meanwhile, Maine is scheduled to receive yet another high-profile political surrogate visit Tuesday. This time, it’s Donald Trump Jr.