Emily Cain announces 2016 bid for Congress

Emily Cain. BDN file photo by Ashley Conti.

Emily Cain. BDN file photo by Ashley Conti.

Just four months after losing the 2nd Congressional District election, former state Sen. Emily Cain of Orono, a Democrat, has said she’ll run for the seat again in 2016.

It’s a little early, but Cain said in an interview that there was no reason to wait, now that she’s made the decision to run.

“I believe one of the best things you can be as an elected official is direct and honest about what you’re doing,” she said. “This is early to start, but I know that this is what’s required in order to run the kind of campaign that’s going to be needed. We’ll need even more volunteers than last time, a bigger field organization with more people and organizations.”

She said she’ll spend the next few months putting together her campaign team, which so far consists only of herself and a finance director, Sarah Russell. A campaign website, emilycain.com, went live on Tuesday.

Cain made the decision recently, she told the BDN, because Mainers had continued rooting for her even after the election.

She chose to run again because of the “people who have stopped me in the grocery store to say they wish I was there,” she said. “They don’t believe their values are being represented and that’s what this is about.”

Cain made the announcement in a news release, in which she took Congress — controlled in both chambers by the Republican Party — to task for not passing a long-term deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“Instead of helping workers and the middle class, this new Congress is still playing the same old political games,” she wrote. “Instead of doing its job to fund Homeland Security and the jobs it supports here in Maine, a dysfunctional Congress has chosen to put our safety at risk. Maine people deserve better and they need a representative they can count on. I’m launching this campaign to make sure that Maine has a representative who puts the economic opportunity of middle class families ahead of divisive political games.”

Not long after losing the general election to Republican Bruce Poliquin, Cain was identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as its top recruit to win back the rural district in 2016.

The 2nd CD was held by Democrats for more than 20 years before Poliquin won with 45 percent of the vote to Cain’s 40 percent.

Brent Littlefield, a political adviser to Poliquin, said in a statement Tuesday that Cain’s early announcement is little more than a fundraising move.

“It is clear Cain’s Washington advisers are quite desperate to tap into her donors.  They should hold onto their purses and wallets,” he said.

Littlefield also noted that Cain will have a tough road to climb, if history is any indication. Voters in Maine’s 2nd District have not rebuked an incumbent since 1916.

Cain served in the Maine Legislature for 10 years before running for Congress in 2014. In that time, she built a reputation as a reliable deal broker and ascended the ranks, becoming House chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee in 2008, then Democratic leader in the House in 2010. Elected to the Senate in 2012, she again served on Appropriations and led the Government Oversight Committee.

While minority House leader in the 125th Legislature, she was one her party’s lead negotiators on Republican Gov, Paul LePage’s budget, which contained the largest tax cut in Maine history. Cain touted her role in crafting that budget during last year’s campaign, even as most Democrats decried the tax cuts.

Since the election, Cain has left her job with the University of Maine to work as an independent consultant for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, a private nonprofit group.

Cain also took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce the news:

This post will be updated.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.