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Candidates for 2nd Congressional District tussle over inflation and energy in only full debate

Bruce Poliquin (from left), Jared Golden and Tiffany Bond.
Associated Press/Maine Public file
Bruce Poliquin (from left), Jared Golden and Tiffany Bond.

The three candidates vying for Maine's 2nd Congressional District seat tussled Tuesday night over energy costs, the economy, immigration and abortion in the only debate that they'll appear in together before election day.

The points of attack in the hourlong debate hosted by News Center Maine closely tracked the multimillion dollar ad campaigns backing Democratic Congressman Jared Golden and former Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin. The two sparred over inflation and the most recent energy and health care bill enacted by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Independent Tiffany Bond, as she did when she faced the two rivals in 2018, described herself as the pragmatic alternative to what she described as two bickering partisans.

Poliquin, meanwhile, badgered Golden for supporting the the Inflation Reduction Act, claiming that it will tax oil production.

Golden countered that the bill is designed to increase domestic production of oil and gas as Mainers brace for a winter of high heating costs.

"That bill puts a tax on foreign oil on countries like Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia. These are not countries that we want to be energy dependent on going into the future, so taxing imports from those countries is going to help prop up American energy production," he said.

Golden, who edged out Poliquin four years ago in a ranked-choice voting runoff, is seeking a third term and positioning himself as an independent willing to buck his own Democratic party on major spending bills.

Poliquin, a former pension manager and real estate investor who has run for a political office seven times since 2010, claimed he’s not a career politician and tried to puncture Golden’s image by linking him to what he described as the radical Democrats who control Washington.

The two party candidates will face the independent Bond, a Portland attorney, in a repeat ranked-choice voting contest on Nov. 8.

* This story was updated to correct Poliquin's former profession.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.