The money race in Maine’s 2nd District is heating up, but Poliquin has a huge head start

Good morning from Augusta. Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden picked up his fundraising pace en route to and after being tapped last month as Democrats’ nominee to face U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, but the Republican incumbent is still miles ahead in the money race.

The race for Maine’s 2nd District is of national interest for the third straight cycle, but Poliquin will be difficult to defeat in November. Poliquin, who is in his second term, has now raised more than $3 million to defend his seat as of June 30, according to new filings due Sunday to the Federal Election Commission. That’s nearly 64 percent of all the money raised by all five major candidates for Maine’s two congressional seats.

Poliquin, a member of House committees overseeing the financial sector and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has gotten 54 percent of his money from political committees. Among his donors this cycle were the National Rifle Association, Amazon and the financial sector giants Capital One and Allstate.

More than 91 percent of Golden’s money has come from individuals and he has raised nearly $1.1 million overall since the primary’s start. He outraised Poliquin from May 24 to June 30 at $393,000 to Poliquin’s $348,000, but he had to fight through a June 12 primary with conservationist Lucas St. Clair and basically had to start from scratch after that.

That’s a major reason why Poliquin, who was unopposed in the primary, had 7.5 times more money left in his coffers than Golden by June’s end, with $2.7 million to Golden’s $357,000. Independents Tiffany Bond of Portland and Will Hoar of Southwest Harbor haven’t reported fundraising.

Both parties are eyeing this seat as a target in what could be a close race for control of the House, with Democrats leading Republicans in generic polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight. The Cook Political Report deemed the race a toss-up last week.

But the 2nd District has taken a conservative turn of late — as evidenced most recently by President Donald Trump’s 2016 win there — and Poliquin has organizational advantages here by virtue of money and the incumbency.

An independent legislator has already put $110,000 into his bid to defeat a five-term incumbent in Maine’s 1st District. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, has been largely safe since winning her seat in 2008, is in good shape for her 2018 campaign, but independent state Rep. Martin Grohman, an independent with some Republican support, is making the race interesting for now.

Pingree has raised $405,000 with 37 percent of that from political committees, but she has $686,000 in her coffers overall because of unused money from past cycles. Grohman, who only announced his run in April, raised $162,000 with $105,000 left as of June 30. However, Grohman gave his campaign $110,000 of that.

Republican Mark Holbrook, who lost to Pingree in 2016, has been a relative bit player in the money race with $65,000 raised overall and $45,000 left, including nearly $8,600 in personal money. Grohman is banking on ranked-choice voting to give his challenge life, but he’s got a lot to prove before that happens.

Candidates for governor will air plans to address opioid crisis

The Bangor Daily News is hosting a One Life Project event on how to combat opioid addiction. All four gubernatorial candidates, or their representatives, will participate in the Bangor Daily News Maine Focus event Wednesday in Bangor, with the theme being what’s most important to do next to address the opioid epidemic. The event at the Bangor Arts Exchange ballroom will feature a discussion and voting process involving solutions as well as remarks from the candidates. Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is free, but we recommend registering online to reserve yourself a seat.

Reading list

  • Vetoes have helped shape Gov. Paul LePage’s legacy. Since the Republican governor took office in 2011, Maine legislators have dealt with more vetoes than their predecessors had in all sessions combined dating back to 1917. The state’s 74th governor has used his veto pen to drive his own conservative agenda and to box in Democrats, who have held majorities in the Legislature since 2012. LePage has won slightly more veto conflicts than he has lost, and among the key trends in his veto track record are a staunch defense of executive power, opposition to what he perceives to be government overreach and a preference for action over studies.
  • A former University of Maine System trustee will take over leadership of a workforce initiative started by a former gubernatorial candidate. The system’s trustees have picked Theresa Sutton to succeed Eliot Cutler as head of Maine Center Ventures, a tax-exempt entity tasked with building ties with Maine’s business communities and making Maine’s universities more responsive to their needs through the Maine Center for Graduate and Professional Studies. The center aims to better align the university system’s degree programs with the needs of Maine employers. Sutton has worked for Wex, CashStar and L.L. Bean.
  • A developer continues his push to make Boothbay Harbor an upscale vacation destination. Lewiston native Paul Coulombe, who took over his family business, White Rock Distilleries in 1995, has bought more than 50 properties in Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay and Southport during the past six years. He’s made the Boothbay Harbor Golf Resort one of the marquee courses in Maine and renovated inns. Now, his plans for a major reworking of Boothbay Harbor’s east side require a zoning change opposed by some residents concerned that the town would lose much of its working waterfront and working-class character. The rezoning request continues to work its way through the municipal review process and will likely go to a vote next year. In many ways, Coulombe’s clash with townspeople who have spoken out against the major changes he proposes epitomizes the turmoil that attaches to development plans up and down the Maine coast.
  • It will take more than tariffs and a tiff between leaders to keep Canadians away from Maine beaches and arcades. Maine innkeepers, restaurateurs and others who cater to summer visitors from north of the border say that they’ve seen little evidence that the clash between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has caused Canadians to avoid traditional summer vacation hot spots such as Old Orchard Beach and Ogunquit. However, it’s early in the summer tourist season and at least one innkeeper has noted that her Canadian guests have expressed displeasure with “the tenor in the United States, the political situation and the overall rhetoric.”

A mothful of misery

I’m not the type of person who stresses about the dangers of nature. As I have long said, one of the reasons I live in Maine is that the natural disasters here can only kill you slowly, such as by freezing you to death in the dark. As far as I know, I don’t have to be worried about an earthquake or tornado taking me out.

That attitude is also true for bugs. Mosquitos are but an annoyance and even the dreaded tick is something I can thwart with pants, bug spray and nightly tick checks of my family. However, I am learning I am susceptible to browntail moths.

I’ve had them around my property for years but this year, it’s an infestation. I have an entire mature oak tree 20 feet from my house with all the leaves chewed off. As I sit here, I have at least 15 of the little buggers clinging to my screens. It makes me wish I had a flamethrower.

I’ve noticed this year that whenever I do any substantial yard work, like my son and I did yesterday, a couple of days of itchy misery follow. We have little red bumps all over our arms and along the sides of our torsos. It’s fun.

There is a silver lining. I’ve decided that to reduce the threat, I’ll mow my lawn one more time this year, with a thorough tick check afterwards. Here’s my soundtrack. Here’s the moths’ soundtrack. Christopher Cousins

Programming note

The legislative calendar is completely empty this week, and campaign season is in full “throw candy at kids during parades” mode, so unless there are major developments in Maine politics during the next 24 hours, Daily Brief will take Tuesday off. We’ll be back Wednesday.


An item in Friday’s Daily Brief misidentified the districts being targeted by a federal initiative beefing up enforcement against opioid traffickers. It applies to 10 U.S. attorney districts across eight states, not 10 states. It was a reporter’s error.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins, Michael Shepherd and Robert Long. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

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Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.