With an outgoing incumbent unlikely to run, national Democrats are trying to force a 2016 rematch in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, but if Emily Cain runs again, she may face a primary challenger.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, wants Cain to run against Republican Rep.-elect Bruce Poliquin in 2016. Democrats are scrambling to win back U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s seat, which they had for 20 years before Poliquin flipped it earlier this month, winning 48 percent of votes to Cain’s 42 percent.

Michaud, a six-term congressman from East Millinocket, lost a gubernatorial bid to Republican Gov. Paul LePage and has been mum on his future plans, but he’s backing away from running for his seat again.

In a Friday email, Michaud’s chief of staff, Peter Chandler, said “while one never says never, it is unlikely that he would seek another term in Congress” and the DCCC has wasted no time pushing Cain to run again.

After a Thursday recruiting meeting in Washington first reported by Roll Call, the outgoing DCCC chairman, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, named the 2nd District as a top pick-up opportunity for Democrats in 2016, a presidential election year. The party thinks it can do better nationally than it did this year, when Democrats lost their majority in the U.S. Senate and saw Republicans increase their House majority.

A DCCC aide confirmed that Cain would be one of five candidates nationwide to be asked to enter rematches for their seats, alongside three ousted incumbents in Texas, Nevada and Illinois and another defeated challenger in Colorado.

In an email, Cain, a 34-year-old state senator from Orono, said she was “flattered to read the news from the DCCC” and is “contemplating 2016,” but she is focused now on her personal life.

If she runs, she could have a primary challenger — Rep. Jeff McCabe, 37, who won a fourth term representing Skowhegan earlier this month. He said Friday that “a lot of people” have approached him since the Nov. 4 election asking him to run in 2016 and that he’s considering it after briefly flirting with a run for the 2nd District earlier this year.

Also, outgoing state Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, a Democrat, has said he’s considering an independent run for the seat in 2016 after establishment Democratic interests lined up against him in his unsuccessful race against Cain in the June primary.

When asked if a Cain campaign would dissuade him from running, McCabe said, “I don’t think so,” saying that he has pursued “a statewide plan for economic growth” in the Legislature. He noted past endorsements from the National Rifle Association, whose backing Poliquin touted as a wedge issue with Cain in this year’s campaign.

“If you look at my record and who I am, I think I’ve addressed some issues that are important CD2 issues,” McCabe said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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