Your Vote 2014 Profile: Bruce Poliquin

May 1, 2014

2nd Congressional District Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin
    This year two well-known Maine Republicans are vying for the nomination to represent Maine's vast 2nd District in Congress.  It's the seat currently held by Democrat Mike Michaud, who is running for governor.  But former state Senate President Kevin Raye and former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin have different styles, different priorities, and different reasons for entering the race.  Poliquin says he's running so that he can help the next generation.  Jennifer Mitchell has this profile.

 He grew up in Waterville, attended private school and later Harvard, and became a successful financial investor.  Conservative to his core, Bruce Poliquin remains a political favorite for Maine's tea party.  He's made two unsuccessful previous attempts to run for political office. But this time around he's already taken to the airwaves to offer voters a glimpse of his family values. Poliquin Ad Narration:  "He married his hometown sweetheart, and moved home to Maine. That's when tragedy struck. He lost his wife while their son was a toddler. He raised him, strengethening his belief in life and family." That 'toddler" mentioned in the ad is now graduating from college.  And Poliquin says it's taken his son two years to find a decent job. When Poliquin was that age, he says kids didn't have it so tough. "If you showed up on time, and you worked hard and you were honest, there was a job for you," he says. "It's not that way today. So the question is, what is going on? Why is it so difficult to find jobs today? Why are we stuck in high unemployment with too many part-time jobs?" The answer, says Poliquin? Elect someone who knows how to run a business. The federal government is bogged down in bureaucracy and saddled with career politicians, he says, who don't know how to tackle the underlying problems plaguing the economy. "The problems get bigger, and now we're stuck with a big expensive government that spends too much, borrows too much, and regulates too much," he says. "And the private sector - the business community - is not investing to expand their businesses in hiring more people, and our kids suffer." Poliquin's own aggressive pursuit of conservative fiscal policies hav made him a lightening rod for Democrats. In 2009, he sunk $100,000 of his own money into a citizens' initiative to establish a taxpayers' bill of rights. It was defeated at the polls. But that didn't stop Poliquin from mounting an unsuccessful bid for governor, and later accepting a job offer from Gov. Paul LePage to serve as treasurer. As treasurer, he convinced the Legislature to eliminate $1.7 billion of public pension debt. That untimately meant less money in the pockets of retirees.  But he still considers it one of his biggest accomplishments. Poliquin Ad Narrator: "He spent decades in business, creating hundreds of jobs, managing pensions for businesses like Bath Iron Works. Giving back, he served our state as treasurer, reducing government costs." If elected to Congress, Poliquin says he'd work to reform entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Together, he says they account for about 42 percent of federal spending. As one remedy, he supports raising the retirement age.   "Another thing we might have to do is a means test," he says. "So if you are a high earner, maybe your retirement check isn't as generous as someone who is earning less.  There are a lot of things that we can to correct our problem. We fixed it in Maine. I can help fix it in Washington.> And many of his supporters say they're more inclined to believe him when he says that, for one simple reason: Man #1: "He's never been in politics like the other guys have." Man #2: "He's not a lifetime politician." Woman: "He's not a politician." Man #1: "He's not a career politician. That's what Maine wants now." But as treasurer, Poliquin did experience some high-profile political dust-ups, including a challenge by some of his critics that he'd mis-used the state's Tree Growth Property Tax Law to win tax breaks on property he owns in Georgetown.  It was later determined that Poliquin hadn't broken any rules, but his case fueled calls for tighter restrictions of the program. He also waged a high-profile campaign to crack down on spending at the Maine State Housing Authority, something Poliquin touted at this year's GOP convention. "And I cleaned up the mess at Maine State Housing Authority that was left over by Democrats!" he said, to cheers. Two yars ago, Poliquin ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. He lost his primary to former Secretary of State Charlie Summers.  He now faces off against former Maine Senate President Kevin Raye in the June 10 primary.