PORTLAND, Maine — We're just six weeks away from Election Day, and candidates running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's 2nd Congressional District are letting their voices be heard.
On Tuesday, the three candidates slated to appear on the November ballot took part in a NEWS CENTER Maine Voice of Voter forum. Questions ranged from access to abortion, to how to address inflation, to how to support Maine's lobsterman, and dozens of other topics.
Democratic incumbent Rep. Jared Golden, Republican former Congressman Bruce Poliquin, and independent Tiffany Bond all took part.
After the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade earlier this year, abortion rights are front and center during the congressional race. Candidates were all asked if the would you support a federal ban on abortion or lesser reproductive rights limitations. Here are their responses.
Golden: "I don't support late-term abortions. What I do support is access to abortion services up to the point of viability, and this is the key point, as determined by a medical professional."
Poliquin: "I am pro-life, Pat, and very proud of it. I have always stood up for life, all life and religious liberties. Let them continue to weigh in. The best government is the government closest to home. I trust the people of Maine."
Bond: "This should not be legislated at all, including late-term terminations, which are not women who are harlots willy-nilly running around getting pregnant and terminating eight months. Those are families that are grieving the loss of very wanted children."
Mainers are continuing to navigate high prices for just about everything. Candidates were asked how they would go about addressing inflation if they were elected to Congress.
Golden: "Congress can actually do a little bit to address that. Here's how. Let's talk about some of the things I have supported in 2021 and 2022. The inflation Reduction Act, which I voted for, is going to help ensure American energy independence. This is more production of American oil and gas with technologies that are going to make it cleaner to use. But in that bill we're also forcing the Biden administration to release leases on public lands for oil and gas drilling to increase production in the here and now."
Poliquin: "A few weeks ago, when this-- I call it the higher inflation act, and some people call it the Inflation Reduction Act, it doesn't. $740 billion was the last piece of spending that took place, drives up inflation. The CBO reports that, it actually puts new taxes on the production of heating oil, gasoline, and natural gas, which drives up the cost of electricity. The cost of gasoline and heating oil is crushing us, so we've got to control spending."
Bond: "We got notice very recently of the mill in Jay closing, and instead of a lot of hemming and hawing, we should be looking at what Congress can do as far as maybe providing grants and loans that can be made available. We should be going there with our problem-solving hats on to make a more diverse and robust economy and I think that's the best way you can fight inflation overall."
Lobster fishing regulations
Maine lobstermen are intertwined in legal battles over proposed regulations by the federal government in an effort to protect endangered North Atlantic Right Whales from entanglement in fishing gear. Candidates were asked if there's a responsibility to protect a species from becoming extinct and whether that can be accomplished without damaging the lobster industry.
Poliquin: "Right now, we have these very extreme environmental groups that, I hate to say this, but support Jared Golden and donate to Jared Golden. And he supports, along with the democrats, these punitive regulations on our lobster industry that include putting windmills in the Gulf of Maine where we fish, and now trying to push those lobster fishermen to using rope less traps. I don't know how they're going to do that."
Golden disputed Poliquin's claim that he supports these regulations. Golden said he has received a donation from the executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is affiliated with the group "Seafood Watch," which listed lobster as a produce to avoid Red List. Golden said he would not return the donation, as the organization would otherwise use those funds in legal battles against Maine lobstermen.
Golden: "I sent a letter to her just a few weeks ago, and here's what we said. 'This was a reckless piece of activism,' we said. 'This isn't science, it's irresponsible conjecture, a baseless smear in an egregious violation of the scientific principles you claim to stand for.'"
Bond: "It's always a balancing act. I think that fisheries change over time, and there's going to have to be a lot of adjustments as climate change occurs. This is just the very first little bit in what's going to be a very difficult journey for our lobsterman. And we need people who are dedicated to watching the science and seeing how it matches up."
Student loan forgiveness
Student loan forgiveness is another hot topic after President Joe Biden announced his plan. All candidates were asked whether they support student loan forgiveness.
Bond: "No I don't think the solution that we're using is right. Right now we have predatory loans that can't really be forgiven in any way through bankruptcy process for students. And though I appreciate there was an attempt to whack off some of the student loans, it didn't fix the problem and it's not even really a band aid."
Bond then discussed support for zero-interest loans for students.
Golden: "No, I've already come out against it. I think it was a terrible mistake, and I think the lawsuit brought forward today will be successful."
Poliquin: "No, of course not. What if you didn't go to college and have to pay for someone who did that might be making more money. No, you shouldn't forgive student loans."
Marriage equality bill
During the debate, Poliquin claimed that the Inflation Reduction Act would create new taxes on "heating oil, gasoline, and natural gas."
According to the Tax Foundation, "starting in 2026, the Inflation Reduction Act introduces a fee on methane emissions. The fee would begin at $900 per ton and rise to $1,500 per ton after two years. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis, this would raise $6.35 billion over the next decade...The fee is targeted solely at methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, even though the agricultural sector is the largest source of methane emissions in the United States."
Jared Golden also claimed the he voted against the Biden administration more than any member of congress. According to the data website FiveThirtyEight, that claim is true. Rep. Golden voted with the Biden administration 86.2% percent of the time. The next closest Democrat is Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) who voted with the Biden Administration in 92.3% of votes.
The General Election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. You can request an absentee ballot and find your local polling place by visiting the Maine Secretary of State's website.