BANGOR, Maine — Democrat Joe Baldacci announced Friday that he’s dropping out of the 2016 race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District after struggling to find money and support.
It’s a disappointing end for the Bangor city councilor, lawyer and brother of former Gov. John Baldacci, leaving Emily Cain, the former Orono legislator who lost to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2014, as the presumptive nominee to face the freshman Republican again in November.
Baldacci didn’t take interviews on Friday, but in a statement, he said he found “great political support for better representation in Congress” during the race, endorsing Cain and saying his responsibility was with his family and law firm employees, “whose futures I’m not prepared to mortgage” to compete in the race.
Gerry Palmer, chairman of Bangor’s Democratic committee who served with Baldacci on the council, said he hadn’t heard of Baldacci’s decision on Friday afternoon, but he said he expected that it came down to fundraising, business and family concerns.
“I thought it was going to be an excellent race between Emily and Joe, and I’m surprised because I know that Joe is politically driven, but those things happen in politics,” Palmer said.
Baldacci was always facing a tough battle for the nomination: Cain never stopped campaigning after her loss to Poliquin and announced her second run in March 2015 with the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm for House Democrats.
It was near July’s end by the time Baldacci announced his run, but he struggled to keep pace with Cain. By December’s end, he raised just $161,000 to her $787,000 — not including a $32,000 loan he gave to to his campaign — and had $76,000 left to her $550,000.
But money wasn’t the only problem: Lately, campaign releases from Cain touted that she “has thus far earned every endorsement made” in the race, and though Baldacci got money from his brother, other family members, lawyers and other donors, it was formally true.
Cain swept up support from unions and environmental groups, leaving Baldacci in a poor position within his party and in even poorer shape if he ever had to take on Poliquin, a fundraising juggernaut who has raised $1.85 million so far.
Cain said in a statement that Baldacci’s decision “was selfless and brave” and “in the best interest of the people of Maine.”
“I am excited and ready to work with Joe to take back this seat,” she said.
In an email, Poliquin’s political adviser, Brent Littlefield, said, “While some are focused on politics, Congressman Poliquin is focused on jobs in Maine,” adding a link to a tweet from Poliquin about a bill of his that passed on Monday.