It’s August 2015, but the campaign is already on in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. National Democrats bought radio time this week to attack U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign arm, announced the ads on TuesdayThey’ll hit the freshman Republican’s opposition to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, a federal credit agency that helps exporters by underwriting loans that help foreign purchasers buy American-made goods.

The agency’s authority lapsed at June’s end, and that move was hailed by conservatives who think the bank distorts free markets. But it has split Republicans, who are under pressure from Democrats and business groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which typically backs the party — to renew the bank’s charter.

Poliquin is the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation who opposes reauthorization. He has told MPBN that the bank is plagued by corruption, picks economic “winners and losers” and puts “taxpayers on the hook for bailouts.” That’s an argument the bank’s supporters reject, saying the bank doesn’t cost taxpayers.

(Does it? That’s complicated, as a Washington Post fact-check explains. The bottom line? The bank uses taxpayer money to issue loans. In recent years, it has been returning money to the U.S. Treasury, but in the past, it has seen losses and that could happen again, so taxpayers assume risk.)

Poliquin has been taking heat on the subject lately: In July, the manager of a General Electric plant in Bangor wrote a Bangor Daily News op-ed urging Poliquin to reconsider his stance and the Maine Democratic Party criticized him for it on Tuesday at a rally outside of his Bangor office that Poliquin’s campaign called a “stunt.”


Maine isn’t a massive exporter, but between 2007 and 2015, the bank has supported $290 million in exports from businesses statewide, including $51 million to five businesses in the 2nd District. In 2010, the bank insured a Trenton seafood company against nonpayment by customers in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, helping it create eight jobs and grow exports.

A DCCC spokesman declined to say how much the group paid for the radio ads and what stations they’re running on, but they’ll be in the Bangor and Augusta markets this week.

It’s advertised once already against Poliquin this year, running an April ad in the University of Maine’s student newspaper on a House Republican budget proposal’s impact on college funding and should be heavily involved in the 2016 campaign. It’s already backing Emily Cain, last year’s Poliquin challenger, over Democratic primary challenger Joe Baldacci, who filed to run last week.

Their differences will gain a lot of attention in the coming months. But as long as the Export-Import Bank languishes, they’ll have a common attack line to use against Poliquin.