BANGOR — Republican fiscal hawk Bruce Poliquin won his party’s nomination in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race on Tuesday, while Emily Cain secured an expected victory on the Democratic side.

The win over primary opponent Kevin Raye is redemption for Poliquin, the ex-state treasurer from Oakland who has lost two recent primaries for statewide office — in the 2010 governor’s race and the 2012 U.S. Senate.

During the race, Poliquin burnished fiscal and social conservative credentials along with a political outsider image over primary opponent Kevin Raye.

On the flip side, this marks Raye’s third unsuccessful bid for the 2nd District seat, after losing the general election to Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in 2002 and 2012 after a long career in politics, including working for ex-U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Poliquin had 56 percent of votes to Raye’s 44 percent, with 76 percent of district precincts reporting votes Tuesday night.

“The 2nd Congressional District needs someone who will go to Washington and fight for the interest of the people here and not be part of the mess,” Poliquin said in his victory speech in Bangor.

Cain, 34, a state senator from Orono, delivered a commanding win over Troy Jackson, a state senator from Orono. She won 73 percent of votes to his 27 percent.

“Together we will take the voice of Maine’s middle class to Washington D.C.,” Cain said in her victory speech to supporters in Bangor.

She was always the favorite over Jackson and the race between Raye and Poliquin was expected to be close. But it never got that way.

Raye warned supporters before 10 p.m. that the race wasn’t trending well, and he came back before his them about a half-hour later to concede the race to Poliquin, saying “it is clear to me that we will not prevail.”

But as Raye thanked small groups of supporters, he said to some that Poliquin’s nomination could hurt the party’s chances of winning Michaud’s seat in November, lamenting a more conservative direction in the party nationally.

“It says something about the direction of the Republican Party,” Raye said.

Jackson, a feisty labor Democrat, criticized Cain during their campaign for compromising with Republicans to vote for a 2011 state budget that Democrats criticized for cutting taxes on the rich and cutting state pensions.

But in his concession speech at his campaign headquarters in Lewiston, Jackson said he’ll do everything he can to support Cain through to November, saying “I don’t want to see someone like Bruce Poliquin be our congressman.”

After losing to Gov. Paul LePage in the 2010 Republican primary, he sidled to up the governor. As state treasurer from 2011 to early 2013, he led the way in public-relations campaigns on reforms that are still cheered by Republicans and reviled by Democrats like Jackson, including the pension reductions.

In that vein, his campaign was largely focused around large fiscal issues, including reducing national debt and reforming Social Security and Medicare, which Poliquin has said are unsustainable in their current states and won’t be available for future retirees if changes aren’t made.

“We have some very difficult problems in Washington, including the Social Security and Medicare program,” he said in his speech. “We need to make sure we protect and preserve Social Security and Medicare.”

Campaign-long, Cain deflected Jackson’s criticism by saying she “stayed at the table” with Republicans to negotiate compromises that guarded Mainers against more harmful GOP ideas.

In her speech, she kept with that theme, saying she has “always been willing to work with anyone and everyone who wants to do the right thing for the state of Maine.”

However, she also said national Republicans reject to minimum wage increases, to equal pay for women and to accepting climate change as a scientific fact.

“It’s time to say yes to a different kind of politics,” she said. “We need more leaders and fewer fighters in Washington D.C. because when all you say is no, nothing gets done.”

Poliquin gave a preview of future attacks, and they look a lot like the ones he used against Raye: He said “there is a very clear distinction” between he and Cain.

“She is a career politician. I’m a business professional,” he said. “We need someone who can solve a jobs problem, not someone who will add to the problems in Washington.”

Cain and Poliquin will face independent conservative Blaine Richardson of Belfast in the November general election.

Turnout was expected to be a key factor in the Republican race before tallies came in, and Raye acknowledged to supporters that he was doing well in areas where there were high turnout and bad in areas where there was low turnout.

Sandy Maisel, a professor of government at Colby College in Waterville, and Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, expected that before tallies came in.

Since Poliquin is well-liked by many on the far-right of the party who tend to be more active primary voters than moderates, they thought a low-turnout electorate would be more comprised of his supporters than Raye’s.

Among that group was Simone Engelhardt, chairwoman of the Pittsfield’s GOP committee.

At Poliquin’s party, she said supports Poliquin because of his more conservative stance on abortion rights than Raye.

“Bruce represents pro-life and that’s important to me,” Engelhardt said. “His conservatism is proven.”

But Greg Gilman, a Cain supporter from Enfield who appeared in one of her commercials and attended her party, called his preferred candidate young and energetic.

“There are a lot of good qualities, and she actually worries about people and how to benefit them in the years to come,” he said.

Morning Sentinel reporter Jesse Scardina and Kennebec Journal reporter Paul Koenig contributed reporting from Bangor. Portland Press Herald reporter Eric Russell contributed reporting from Lewiston.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

 


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