AUGUSTA, Maine — Representation of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District shifted officially to Republican hands on Tuesday when Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Oakland was sworn into office.
Tuesday’s ceremony in Washington was a milestone for Poliquin, who has been seeking public office since an unsuccessful GOP primary bid for governor in 2010. On the first day of the 114th Congress, Poliquin joined 434 voting House members — including Maine’s other U.S. House member, 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat serving her fourth term — for a swearing-in ceremony early Tuesday afternoon in Washington.
Poliquin, an investment banker and financier, is the first Republican to serve Maine’s central and northern 2nd Congressional District since Olympia Snowe gave up the seat in 1994 to run for the U.S. Senate. Poliquin replaced Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who surrendered the seat he held for 12 years to run unsuccessfully for governor in 2014.
“As a life-long central Mainer, I’m honored and proud to represent the hard-working people of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District,” Poliquin said in a written statement. “I accept this job with humility and seriousness, and will work hard to address, head-on, the serious problems that are hurting job creation in Maine.”
Poliquin was not available for comment on Tuesday.
Poliquin, whose views lean toward the fiscally and socially conservative wing of the Republican political spectrum, echoed campaign statements he has been making for months, pledging to work in a bipartisan fashion.
“Mainers want this new American Congress to work together to solve our problems,” Poliquin said. “I’ve already begun to work with congressional Republicans and Democrats from across the country to help create a better business climate so more jobs will be created throughout Maine and America.”
One of Poliquin’s first acts as a U.S. House member was to vote for the re-election of Republican Rep. John Boehner of Ohio as speaker of the House. Some rebellious conservative Republican House members attempted to lead a revolt within the party against Boehner, but it failed and he was elected speaker on the first ballot. Boehner visited Maine during the campaign to stump for Poliquin.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett congratulated Poliquin in a prepared statement in which he lauded Poliquin’s “extraordinary work ethic, tenacity and commitment to Maine people.”
“Bruce’s commitment to public service, his strong character and keen intellect will make him a powerful force to be reckoned with on the national stage,” Bennett said.
Congressional Republican leaders apparently agree, having given Poliquin some plum committee assignments usually reserved for up-and-comers, though those assignments also could be designed to benefit Poliquin’s re-election campaign fundraising efforts. First-term House incumbents are considered most vulnerable to re-election challenges, and former Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain of Orono, who lost to Poliquin in November, is already talking about another bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Poliquin has been assigned to the House Committee on Financial Services, which oversees the financial services industry, including the securities, insurance, banking, international finance, credit, urban development and public and private housing industries.
Pingree, of North Haven, who finds herself a member of a smaller Democratic minority in this U.S. House than in 2013-2014, said the fact that Congress is becoming more partisan will not deter her from efforts to do what she thinks is best for Maine.
“I plan to continue to look for ways to get things done that benefit Maine families and Maine’s economy,” Pingree said in a written statement. She is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which is influential for its oversight of how taxpayer money is spent.
According to a news release from Pingree’s office, she already has extended an olive branch to Poliquin. She gave him a framed photo of a working waterfront along the Maine coast as a welcoming gift.
“Maine is fortunate to have a congressional delegation that works together to fight for our state, regardless of party,” Pingree said. “I look forward to working with Bruce on issues important to Maine.”
Pingree and Poliquin weren’t the only members of Maine’s congressional delegation who were sworn in to office after winning re-election in 2014, though the third needs little introduction. Republican Sen. Susan Collins — especially since Snowe’s retirement — has become the most popular and familiar politician in Maine. She took the oath of office Tuesday for her fourth term.
Independent Sen. Angus King, the fourth member of Maine’s congressional delegation, was not up for re-election in 2014. He was sworn in Tuesday and will continue caucusing with Senate Democrats, who lost control of the upper chamber to Republicans in the November 2014 elections.
Maine’s congressional delegation now consists of two Republicans, one Democrat and an independent.