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Former GOP Congressman Bruce Poliquin Vows To Retake 2nd District Seat From Jared Golden

Bruce Poliquin
Robert F. Bukaty
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Augusta, Maine.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin announced on Wednesday that he'll attempt to regain his old 2nd District seat, potentially setting up a rematch of the 2018 contest against Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden.

Poliquin, 67, kicked off his campaign Wednesday much the same way he ended his reelection bid three years ago.

In an interview with Portland radio station WGAN, he portrayed Golden as a tool of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and insisted that he beat Golden, but was robbed of that victory because of Maine's ranked-choice voting law.

"Head-to-head, you know, I beat Golden in 2018, and God willing, I will do it again next year," he told Portland radio station WGAN Wednesday morning. "Because I'll tell you, he just does not represent the values of our 2nd District."

Poliquin led Golden after the initial count in 2018, but lost during the ranked-choice runoff — the first federal race ever decided that way.

At the time, the 2018 contest was also the most expensive in Maine history, drawing a combined $23 million in candidate and political action committee spending by national groups.

A 2022 rematch between Poliquin, a former investment manager, and Golden, a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, could well eclipse that figure.

In announcing his bid — his sixth run for elected office in the past seven elections — Poliquin also signaled that his campaign will nationalize the contest, as he recited a range of Republican talking points that blame Democrats for issues such as illegal immigration, inflation, the recent spike in COVID cases, gas prices and a worker shortage.

"Him (Golden) being in Congress enables people like Nancy Pelosi to be the Speaker. It is pushing us so far to the left," he said.

Making attacks stick to Golden has been difficult for the GOP, which recently resorted to running TV ads blaming him for a browntail moth problem that has existed since at least 1897.

Golden has voted twice against Pelosi for Speaker and earlier this year drew widespread scorn from liberals when he was the only Democrat to vote against the American Rescue Plan.

The pandemic relief bill included the extended unemployment benefits that Poliquin is blaming for the worker shortage.

Nevertheless, Poliquin, a tenacious campaigner whose first run for office was during the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, is hoping that recent history will benefit his candidacy. Since 1946, the average midterm loss for the president's party is 25 congressional seats.

Golden earned more votes than former President Donald Trump did in the 2nd District last year and he avoided heavy spending by outside groups.

This year his campaign has intensified its fundraising efforts. In response to Poliquin's announcement, Golden's campaign manager said he was looking forward to a potential rematch.

Poliquin may first need to win the GOP primary, which so far includes state Sen. Trey Stewart, of Presque Isle, and state Rep. Michael Perkins, of Oakland.