Hoping to get his old job back, former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who served two terms from Maine’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District, announced Wednesday that he plans to challenge the Democrat who beat him in 2018, Lewiston Democrat Jared Golden.

“I can’t watch this anymore and sit on the sidelines,” he told WGAN radio Wednesday. “It’s just not who I am.”

Former congressman Bruce Poliquin of Maine speaks at a news conference at Bath Iron Works in Bath in 2017. He announced Wednesday that he will seek to regain the congressional seat he lost to U.S. Rep. Jared Golden.   AP file photo

Poliquin, who came up short in the nation’s first ranked-choice voting congressional race but has never admitted that he lost, said he aims “to bring Maine common sense and sanity back to Washington.”

Poliquin, a 67-year-old developer from Oakland, is the third Republican to enter the 2022 race, following state Rep. Michael Perkins of Oakland and state Sen. Trey Stewart of Presque Isle.

Poliquin called Stewart, a 27-year-old law student who is better known than Perkins, “a nice, young fellow” who has every right to run.

“It’ll be a competition. That’s what America is all about,” Poliquin told the Portland radio station.

If Poliquin wins back his seat, it would mark a dramatic break in Maine’s political history, where 28 of its members of Congress, in addition to Poliquin, have lost a reelection bid. None of them ever regained their seat.

Golden, 38, is considered among the more vulnerable Democratic incumbents heading into the contest, having won last year despite the district voting solidly in favor of the reelection of Donald Trump, a president that Golden voted twice to impeach.

Cody Porter, state chairman of the Maine College Republicans, said Golden ought to be worried and the GOP “shouldn’t be complacent, but Congressman Poliquin is someone who has proven he can win” in the district.

“The GOP is already unifying behind him well in advance of the primary, and that in itself will give him a major boost in this race,” Porter said.

The Republican candidate last year, Dale Crafts of Lisbon, backed Poliquin in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“Our nation needs leaders who will stand up against the liberal attack of our personal freedoms and liberties and protect the American way of life,” Crafts said. “We, as Republicans across Maine’s 2nd District, must unite behind Bruce to ensure this campaign for America starts today. We need Bruce in Washington to fight for America!”

Poliquin said in a prepared statement that Golden and other Democrats are pushing America toward socialism.

He recited a list of national issues where he insisted Democrats are heading in the wrong direction, from security on the Mexican border to spurring inflation with “out-of-control spending.”

The former congressman said Golden “enables people like Nancy Pelosi to be speaker” and his presence in the House makes it easier for Democrats to pass legislation that he said is “pushing this country so far to the left.”

Margaret Reynolds, campaign manager for Golden’s reelection bid, said in a prepared statement that “Mainers know Congressman Golden and they know that he has spent his time in Congress laser-focused on getting things done for his constituents. From laying the groundwork for the bipartisan infrastructure deal to fighting pharmaceutical companies to protect good mill jobs in the County to securing legislation to support thousands of shipbuilding jobs at (Bath Iron Works), Congressman Golden is busy getting things done for folks across the 2nd District.”

“Mainers also know Bruce Poliquin,” Reynolds said. “He’s still the guy voters rejected in 2018. Nothing has changed about him since then, and if he receives the GOP nomination, Jared will look forward to the rematch. In the meantime, the congressman remains focused on doing the job the way it’s supposed to be done.”

Republicans have had a hard time finding ways to knock Golden effectively, as shown in a recent attack ad that blamed him for failing to curtail browntail moths, which have been in Maine for more than 120 years.

Poliquin, who typically resides in Georgetown, said this year he’ll go into the race with his eyes wide open about ranked-choice voting, but in his radio interview he continued to maintain that he won the 2018 race.

“Head-to-head, you know, I beat Golden in 2018, and God willing, I will do it again next year,” Poliquin said.

Poliquin lost the race by 3,509 votes. It was the first time since 1916 that an incumbent in Maine’s 2nd District went down to defeat.

Poliquin, a former state treasurer, sat out the 2020 election, when Golden beat Lisbon Republican Dale Crafts, because, he said, he wanted to spend more time with his ailing parents.

Last month, wearing his developer hat, he disclosed plans to turn the site of a former cannery on Bowery Street in Bath into housing and a public park. He said he envisioned the $500,000 homes he plans to construct would be for seniors looking to downsize, young families and Bath Iron Works employees.

Poliquin, a Harvard University graduate and former Wall Street investment manager, has an adult son whom he raised after his wife and father-in-law drowned.

The Republican primary is slated to take place nearly a year from now on June 14, 2022. It will be decided by ranked-choice voting. The general election will take place in November 2022.

The election next year is likely to prove a barnbuster, with former Gov. Paul LePage angling to take on his Democratic successor, Janet Mills.

Poliquin first won his congressional seat in 2014 in a  year when LePage sought reelection as governor. Poliquin lost the seat the year that Mills captured the Blaine House.

The 2nd District is the largest geographically east of the Mississippi River and one of the most rural districts in the country, dotted with small towns and heavily forested. Its economy relies on forestry, fishing and federal government checks to its older-than-average population.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.