Republican Blaine Richardson makes second run for Congress official; raised no money in most recent reporting period
AUGUSTA, Maine — Blaine Richardson, the conservative former Navy captain who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for the GOP’s nomination for Maine’s 2nd U.S. District, will run for Congress again, according to an announcement from the candidate.
Richardson’s intention to run for the office currently held by Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud has been well-known to watchful eyes in Maine politics for months, but the Tea Party-styled candidate made it official late Thursday night with an email distributed by the Maine Republican Party.
Richardson, of Belfast, ran his last campaign as a conservative counterpoint to then-Senate President Kevin Raye, who easily won the GOP primary but lost handily to Michaud in the general election.
“When I got into the race last year, I was a nonpolitician, and had no idea what we were doing,” he said in a Friday interview. “We sort of took off in the airplane and then just had to figure out how to keep it running. We’re much more focused, more sharp this time around.”
The candidate supports defunding and repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a federal balanced budget amendment and a reduction of the corporate tax rate all the way to zero. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and staunch supporter of gun rights, and is anti-abortion.
He also said he was “offended” by the recent revelations about the National Security Agency tracking metadata about Americans’ Internet use and phone calls.
“I don’t want bureaucrats and people in Washington having that kind of power and resource over anyone in this country,” he said. “We need to find a better way of getting terrorists, other than completely archiving the electronic history of good Americans.”
Richardson has not yet filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, but his campaign committee, Richardson For U.S. Congress, has been reporting financial contributions this year. The committee made an anemic $1,150 in first-quarter contributions this year, and took in zero contributions in the second quarter, according to FEC filings.
As of June 30, the campaign had no cash in hand, and more than $21,000 in debt, according to the filing.
Last year, Richardson’s campaign was largely self financed, with more than 70 percent of the roughly $54,000 he raised during the primary coming from loans or the candidate’s own pocket. He said Friday that he expects to raise more in independent contributions this time around, because more people are familiar with him as a candidate.
Richardson is the second Republican, after Maine House Minority Whip Alex Willette, to officially announce his candidacy for the 2nd District. If he’s getting in the game early, it should come as no surprise.
After losing the primary to Raye last year by a 17 percent margin, Richardson said that if he had made any mistakes in the primary, it was in not announcing his candidacy until just four months before the primary.
“I apologize to all the Maine people in the 2nd District who are trying to enjoy summer without a politician coming to their door,” he said. “Quite frankly, the only reason I’m doing this is I don’t want to give Alex any quarter. If he’s out there, I want to be out there.”
“I’m tickled that young folks like Alex are emerging, but I think they need a little more life experience and work experience under their belts [before running for Congress],” he said.
Willette said he sees his youth as an asset.
“Congress is filled with a lot of people with age and experience, and we’ve gotten $16 trillion into debt that future generations are going to pay off,” he said.
Former House minority leader Josh Tardy, now an influential State House lobbyist, and former treasurer Bruce Poliquin have also have been mentioned as possible contenders for the Republican nomination.
The last Republican to represent the 2nd District was Olympia Snowe, who held the seat from 1979 to 1995, when she became a U.S. senator. Since then, Democrats John Baldacci and Michaud have represented the district, which covers northern and central Maine.
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Sens. Emily Cain of Orono and Troy Jackson of Allagash, along with Alden Smith, have also announced their candidacies for the 2nd U.S. House District seat. Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci has said he’s considering a run, and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Party primaries will be held in June 2014.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.