As a retired Navy captain, Blaine Richardson served in conflicts and briefed high-ranking Washington officials on matters of war.

If he can win a longshot bid for the seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, the independent Belfast conservative said, he’ll have a security clearance and won’t need training around defense issues.

He said his opponents, Democrat Emily Cain and Republican Bruce Poliquin, can’t match that.

“Have somebody go out and get the three resumes and take the names off the top,” Richardson, 64, said in an interview. “Take the names off the top and then decide which one of us you want doing stuff for you down in Washington.”

But voters will almost certainly not choose him: In a poll of 220 people in the district released last week by the Portland Press Herald, Richardson registered at just 3 percent and he raised just $275 in 2014’s second quarter.

He also holds views that could be seen as outside the country’s mainstream. In an interview after news of the country’s first Ebola case broke, Richardson said the federal government must totally seal the American border — including air and land travel.

“The number one duty of the president is the security and health and welfare of the nation and we need to shut this border like a steel trap,” he said.

Still, he is playing a role in the campaign perhaps larger than other longshot candidates of Maine’s past. His impact “could really matter” by taking votes away from Poliquin, said James Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.

The candidates seem to be responding in kind.

Poliquin called Richardson in late August to implore him to drop out. Richardson held a joint press conference with Cain after Poliquin’s campaign attempted to negotiate conditions with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that would have barred Richardson from participating.

Republicans have dismissed Richardson. Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen called him “a gadfly candidate with some very bizarre views” and said voters will coalesce behind Poliquin’s “mainstream, more realistic views about reforming Washington, D.C.”

Cain, however, has said she’ll refuse to debate if Richardson isn’t included, saying that would be “just unfair.” As she lunched at a table with business leaders at an event in Bangor last month, she said they should also invite Richardson to speak to them, since he has “a major role” in the race.

Richardson scoffed at the notion that he could be an election spoiler, saying Republicans are the only ones who think that. Others, he said, are grateful to have another choice.

After studying biology at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, he went into the Navy, serving from the Vietnam War through the Iraq war before his retirement in 2004. For the last 14 years, he has lived in Belfast, where he owns a construction company that builds coastal homes.

He made himself known in politics in 2012 after he entered the 2nd District race, saying he was inspired to enter politics by examples of government overreach by the Obama administration.

That year, behind backing from the tea party movement, he won more than a third of votes in the Republican primary for the seat as an underfunded newcomer compared to his opponent, former Maine Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry, who Poliquin beat for the Republican nomination to the seat in June.

In January, Richardson announced he had left the Republican Party to run as an independent for the district seat. He’s said that “both parties are in bed together,” and that his “value system doesn’t allow me to hang with people who don’t have any conviction.”

He’s a hard-line conservative who bills himself as a strict follower of the Constitution, opposing gun control, surveillance programs, the Affordable Care Act, many food regulations, free trade agreements and says all immigration must be halted to tamp down unemployment.

He said voters will get behind his message of limited government if he shares the stage with the favored candidates in the race’s homestretch because they can identify with him. He says he can win.

“You will not hear a canned stump speech from Blaine Richardson,” he said. “The reason I’m running is because you could rip my heart out, take an average person in the 2nd District’s out, put mine in, and they’d be the same person.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

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Twitter: @mikeshepherdme