With no candidate for Maine's 2nd District winning a majority Tuesday, the race for the U.S. House seat between incumbent Democrat Jared Golden, Republican Bruce Poliquin and independent Tiffany Bond appears to be headed toward a ranked-choice runoff.
All three candidates met before in 2018, with Poliquin being the incumbent at the time. Golden scored a narrow victory in the state’s first ranked-choice voting contest and Poliquin, upon losing, criticized the ranked-choice concept, blaming it for his loss. Earlier this year, Poliquin said he believed the public now understands the process well enough that it would not be an obstacle to a fair election.
This year, despite some political sniping between the candidates — Poliquin frequently took shots at Golden and the Biden administration, while Bond presented herself as the only candidate who wasn’t out of touch with voters — there was little real political theater throughout the campaign, in part because all three candidates rarely appeared in public together. All three only participated jointly in a single debate, on television station WCSH.
Golden campaigned quietly, holding in-person events but declining interviews from many Maine media outlets, including Spectrum News. As the incumbent, he pointed to his record on, among other initiatives, authorizing more funding under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist Mainers worrying about potentially record-high heating oil prices this winter.
Poliquin, who last served as congressman during the Trump administration, ran on a campaign of righting the ship that he alleged was being upended by the Biden administration and the Democrats, including Golden. He presented himself as a longtime Maine businessman and devout Catholic conservative, but he pledged to put his views aside if the public warranted it. On abortion, for example, he said he was pro-life, but said he would support laws in Maine protecting abortion rights as long as it reflects the will of the people.
Bond ran a no-frills, grass-roots campaign, urging voters to spend money on social programs rather than donate to her. Her platform of improving health care, child care and other social services reflected her family-law background. She said her knowledge of the legal system made her the better choice for a legislator.