MAINE, USA — Democrats look to hold on to a key swing district in Maine as two-term incumbent Rep. Jared Golden faces a challenge from a former congressman.
Golden, a moderate Democrat who touts guns rights and protection of rural jobs, seeks to again defeat Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who held the seat from 2014 to 2018 until losing to Golden. The national Republican Party focused heavily on flipping the district, where former President Donald Trump maintains a strong base of support.
Golden must contend with both Poliquin and independent candidate Tiffany Bond. The race includes ranked-choice voting, which Golden needed to defeat Poliquin last time.
Golden made a pitch to independent-minded Maine voters during the campaign.
“I think it’s generally understood that I’ve been an independent voice,” Golden said. “I’ve been open about that and communicated it.”
Poliquin attempted to portray Golden as too liberal for the district, and focused his campaign on issues including immigration reform and curtailing government spending. He also pointed to his cooperation with Trump when he served in Congress, and to the need to curb inflation.
“If we do not make changes in Washington, all of what we are living through right now continues,” Poliquin said. “Spending and inflation continues. Energy prices will continue to soar. Taxes will go up, crime will continue to soar.”
The 2nd District is one of two in Maine and includes the state’s second- and third-largest cities — Lewiston and Bangor. It is mostly made up of vast rural areas in northern and western Maine and the state’s Down East coastline, and is home to Maine’s traditional industries such as lobster fishing, logging, and potato and blueberry farming. It is politically mixed and geographically vast.
The district handed an electoral vote to Trump in 2016 and 2020. Trump performed even better there in 2020 than in his first election, but Golden held on to the seat that year. The electoral vote was the only one Trump won in New England in either election.
Golden is a Marine Corps veteran who has occasionally bucked Democratic leadership on major issues, including President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which he has opposed. Poliquin is a former investment manager and served two years as Maine’s state treasurer.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s geographically smaller and much more liberal 1st Congressional District, also seeks reelection, against Republican Ed Thelander. Her district is based around Portland, the state’s largest city.