Republican congressional hopeful Liz Caruso of Caratunk put the hydropower corridor fight front and center Tuesday by calling on her 2nd District primary challengers to join her in opposing the $1 billion plan to bolster New England’s electrical supply.

“These times require leadership, and the people of Maine deserve nothing less than absolute clarity from their elected officials,” Caruso said in a speech in West Forks.

Caruso, who has long fought the controversial project, said she’ll announce in a week which of her three primary foes endorse the pledge.

The generally acknowledged frontrunner in the contest, former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Orrington, is unlikely to go along.

During a Tuesday speech in West Forks, Republican congressional candidate Liz Caruso called on Maine 2nd District primary candidates to follow her lead in opposing the hydropower corridor. Screenshot from video

But one of the other contenders, Garret Swazey of Bangor, said he “will always uphold the will of the people” and declared that he “sided with them” in the November ballot question on the issue.

Poliquin’s campaign spokesman, Brent Littlefield, said that the former congressman “respects the will of the voters on this issue” but stopped short of signing the pledge or taking a firm stand on the corridor plan itself.

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He said Poliquin hopes to tackle many issues Mainers care about, including rising inflation, the national debt and stopping the importation of fentanyl.

Shown Poliquin’s response, Caruso said, “I would respectfully suggest that that is not an answer to this important question.”

Asked to clarify Poliquin’s stance, Littlefield responded, “Answered question. Focused on policies impacting Maine people.”

Swazey said that “Mainers are being stretched thinner than ever with inflation and electricity costs at all-time highs.”

“I don’t have a proposed solution in hand, so I don’t want to rule out any energy options or bargaining chips that could save the people of Maine substantial money,” he said. “We must do something to combat the power company monopolies and I know Mainers support a viable solution.”

The other GOP contender, Sean Joyce of Newburgh, could not be reached.

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Caruso said if she is elected, she will elevate the New England Clean Energy Connect project pushed by Central Maine Power to the federal level “to honor the people of Maine’s overwhelming desire to stop the project once and for all” as they showed in a November ballot question that overwhelmingly opposed the project.

“By signing this pledge, I am making it clear to voters that I am on their side, not on the side of the foreign energy companies who have treated our state with utter contempt,” she said.

“The time is now for my opponents to join me in making this pledge” to keep fighting the project, Caruso said.

Republican voters will choose their standard bearer on June 14 to face two-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat. There are two independents in the race as well, Tiffany Bond of Portland and Jordan Borrowman of Lewiston.

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