BANGOR — House Speaker John Boehner will make his first trip to Maine this campaign cycle next week at a closed-door fundraiser for Republican 2nd Congressional District hopeful Bruce Poliquin, a sign that Republicans believe in Poliquin’s chances come November.

Matthew Hutson, Poliquin’s campaign manager, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, will appear at an event for Poliquin on Thursday, Sept. 25, in Maine, but he didn’t provide any other details. Cory Fritz, a Boehner spokesman, said he doesn’t release details on private fundraisers.

Boehner said Poliquin is running a strong campaign, Fritz said. In a quote emailed from Fritz, Boehner said Poliquin is “listening to Mainers and offering real solutions to help create jobs and get America back on track. I think he’s got a real shot at winning.”

Poliquin, 60, a former state treasurer from Oakland, is running against Democrat Emily Cain, a state senator from Orono, and Blaine Richardson, an independent conservative from Belfast, in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat running for governor.

The speaker didn’t come to the state in 2012, when Republican Kevin Raye ran against Michaud. His visit this year is part of a two-day swing to the Northeast.

Earlier this month, Poliquin was given “Young Gun” status by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the party’s campaign arm. That puts Poliquin in the highest of three tiers in the program, which is designed to identify and aid Republicans who should contend for congressional seats.

Boehner was a somewhat controversial figure among some Maine Republicans in 2012, when he approved a slate of state delegates to the Republican National Convention that left out 10 delegates who supported Ron Paul, a libertarian-leaning presidential candidate from Texas who lost the party’s nomination to Mitt Romney.

A day before the Maine event, Boehner is set to headline a fundraiser in Manchester, N.H., for Republican Frank Guinta, according to NHJournal.com. Guinta is trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat who beat him in 2012, to win the seat representing New Hampshire’s southern 1st District.

While the party is touting Poliquin’s chances, Cain, 34, still had a slight lead within the margin of error in a June poll by the Portland Press Herald, the only independent poll released so far in the general election campaign.

A memo from a Poliquin internal poll released earlier this month showed the Republican behind Cain by a similarly slight margin. In Poliquin’s poll, Richardson had 6 percent of votes. Some have said that his involvement could tip the race in Cain’s favor.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this report.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

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Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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