AUGUSTA, Maine — Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is expected to announce on Wednesday that he is running to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District next year, setting up a possible rematch with Rep. Jared Golden, who ousted the Republican in 2018.
The former two-term congressman has recently decided to run for the seat again, according to three people familiar with his decision. He will make at least two appearances on conservative radio shows on Wednesday on WGAN at 7:08 a.m. and on WSKW later in the morning. Poliquin did not answer a message seeking comment on his plans.
“Bruce has deep concerns about the future of the country, but he will speak for himself,” said Brent Littlefield, his strategist.
Another race between Poliquin and Golden, a two-term Democrat, would give Republicans the same top-ticket hopefuls that they had in 2014 with former Gov. Paul LePage running to return to the Blaine House against Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, in 2022. It is virtually certain to bring another large and nationalized race to the swing congressional district.
The 2018 race between Golden and Poliquin was the most expensive race to that point in Maine history, featuring more than $23 million in candidate and outside spending. The next race is a good bet to eclipse that mark with Democrats under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California holding only a 220-212 advantage in the House over Republicans.
Poliquin’s 2014 victory was one Republicans’ first and biggest examples of a long conservative shift in the 2nd District that led to two victories by former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. But Golden ousted the former congressman in a narrow 2018 ranked-choice voting race that Poliquin challenged unsuccessfully in court. Golden was able to ward off national Republican groups from playing a major role in his re-election bid last year.
The 2018 campaign was defined by Golden’s focus on health care, including Poliquin’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Poliquin focused on gun control in a rural district, winning the endorsements of the National Rifle Association and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. The latter group was most irked when Golden refused to respond to an election survey.
But Golden has repaired relations with those constituencies, taking high-profile votes against Democratic gun-control packages and winning an A+ grade from the sportsman’s group in 2020. He has been the most moderate member of his caucus in the most recent session, according to VoteView. Poliquin was closer to the middle of his conference in his final term.
Poliquin’s entry could have side effects for the two Republican legislators in the race against Golden — Sen. Trey Stewart of Presque Isle and Rep. Michael Perkins of Oakland. LePage, the standard-bearer among Maine’s Republican grass-roots, has encouraged Poliquin to run, one source said.
Stewart, a former employee in Poliquin’s office, told the Bangor Daily News when he announced his run last month that he had spoken to the former congressman a month earlier and Poliquin gave him no indication of his plans. Littlefield declined to comment on Stewart’s remarks at the time. Perkins raised a paltry $8,000 by June’s end after filing for the race in May.