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With no candidate winning 50% of vote, 2nd District race officially heads to ranked-choice runoff

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

The race for Maine's 2nd Congressional District is officially headed for a ranked-choice runoff next week, with incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden poised to win another term.

According to unofficial results, Golden was leading former Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin by more than 11,000 votes with about 90% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday evening. But because Golden was sitting at 48.5%, just shy of the 50% threshold needed for an outright victory, the race will be decided by a ranked-choice tabulation for the second time in four years. Golden’s sizable margin over Poliquin, combined with the outcome of the nearly identical runoff in 2018, suggests the 40-year-old Democrat is likely to secure a third term in Congress.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said Wednesday that the ranked-choice runoff in the 2nd District race will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Augusta.

During that process, the second-choice preferences of independent candidate Tiffany Bond will be awarded to either Golden or Poliquin. Bond had received roughly 20,000 votes, or about 7% of the total. That sets up a scenario similar to what happened in 2018 when Golden — then a Democratic state lawmaker from Lewiston — was able to surge past Poliquin during the ranked-choice runoff because so many of Bond’s supporters listed him as their second choice on the ballot. It was the first congressional race in U.S. history decided by a ranked-choice runoff.

This year, however, Golden will be entering the re-tabulation with a sizable lead over Poliquin, who previously represented the 2nd District for two terms in Washington, D.C. If Bond’s supporters once again break heavily for Golden, as expected, they will easily tip him over the 50%-plus-one-vote needed to win the election.

Bond, a Portland attorney who does much of her legal work in the 2nd District, ran a nontraditional campaign pledging to work with both parties and to not be beholden to special interests or party leaders.

Poliquin, who contested the ranked-choice tabulation in the court in 2018, has yet to concede the current race but has said he would accept the will of Maine voters.

On Wednesday morning, said in a statement that “the current state of the race is very encouraging.”

“In the event there is an instant runoff scenario, I expect it to strengthen my margin of victory,” Golden said in a statement. “The people of Maine’s 2nd District have turned out in strong numbers, and their collective voice should be heard. Every vote should be counted in accordance with Maine’s election laws.”

Next Tuesday’s ranked-choice tabulation will be held at the Maine Department of Public Safety building located at 45 Commerce Dr., Suite 13 in Augusta. All ballot materials will be collected from town offices by law enforcement and transported to Augusta for secure storage prior to the runoff, as required under Maine law. The event is open to the public and will also be livestreamed on the secretary of state’s Facebook page.

Corrected: November 10, 2022 at 9:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this article misstated Jared Golden's party affiliation when he was a state lawmaker.