Three contenders face off in what may be the 2nd District’s only congressional debate
PORTLAND — For the first and possibly last time in Maine’s 2nd District campaign, the three congressional candidates shared a debate scene on Tuesday that served to highlight the political differences between the trio of contenders.
Much of the hour-long debate sponsored by News Center Maine saw incumbent U.S. Representative Jared Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston, clash with Republican challenger Bruce Poliquin of Orrington, a former Golden congressman ousted there is four years old.
They clashed over a range of burning issues, including inflation, abortion and border security.
“It was like two wildcats,” said independent Tiffany Bond of Portland, the other challenger in the sprawling rural district who backed President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election. Two years ago it was the most Trump-friendly district in the country elect a Democratic member of Congress.
Despite some harsh words, the pair and Bond all shook hands at the end of the TV session, putting it in front of one of the debates in 2018 when Golden and Poliquin refused to shake hands after a confrontation stormy.
Voters will have their say on Nov. 8 in a ranked election that will allow them to make both a first and second choice on the ballot. If no candidate obtains at least 50% of the votes during the initial count, the last to arrive will be withdrawn from the competition and their votes redistributed to their second choice, if they have made one.
In 2018, this process, used for the first time in a federal election, led to a situation where Poliquin was in the lead after the first round but narrowly lost to Golden in the final count because most of the people who chose Bond or independent Will Hoar as their first selection, opted for Golden over Republican incumbent.
However, none of the debate candidates specifically sought to be anyone’s second choice this time around.
Golden, 40, said Tuesday that “no one has been a fiercer, more independent voice for you. I voted against the Biden administration more than any other Democrat in Congress. I voted against my own party more than any other Democrat in Congress. I proudly do this for you.
Poliquin, 68, who served two terms as state treasurer and congressman, said Golden generally votes with his party and sides with President Joe Biden.
The Republican said ‘politics is not my career’ but he still ‘came out of semi-retirement’ because he could see the state and the nation were in ‘deep’ because of the policies “extreme democrats”.
Bond, a 46-year-old family attorney who works in rural Maine, said voters need to elect someone who will take the job seriously.
“We’ve been stuck in this gross place,” she said, where the other contestants bicker instead of getting things done in an effort to raise more money for TV ads “to torture you.”
Each of the candidates offered a different view of what the country should do about abortion following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that overturned Roe v. Wade of 1973 which had protected a woman’s right to choose.
Golden said he is pro-choice and believes women should have the right to decide until it is viable for a fetus to live alone. It’s been Maine’s standard for decades.
Poliquin, however, said he was “pro-life and very proud of it”.
He said he was content to let each state decide what the standard should be for its people. “Leave that to the states,” he said.
Bond, who is pro-choice, lamented a system that allowed the issue of abortion to become so hot instead of something between women and their medical providers.
“Shame on all of us for allowing this to become a political issue,” she said.
She said late-term abortions, which are more controversial, only happen to “highly wanted children” who are only aborted after much anguish and heartache. She said no one waits that long to get an abortion unless there is a medical reason.
Poliquin and Golden agreed that there should be term limits.
Golden said House members should be able to serve “three or four” two-year terms and senators “one or two” six-year terms. Poliquin said 12 years is enough for anyone on Capitol Hill.
Bond said she opposes term limits.
She said they would have the effect of propelling more wealthy people into politics and “giving the lobbyists the edge” in Washington, as only they would have the long experience of how to get things done.
Poliquin has sought throughout the campaign to draw attention to what he sees as lax security along US borders under the Biden administration.
He said during the debate that Democrats “invited everyone to America” and basically opened the borders to immigrants and “a flood of fentanyl.”
“That’s not a problem,” Golden replied, insisting he voted for more than twice as much money to bolster border security in his four years in the House as Poliquin did. never did in his four years in Washington.
Bond said immigration issues had suffered from “massive legislative neglect” for years. She said the nation needs to put in place a fair and just system that helps the so-called Dreamers, who came to the country as children and never knew any other country.
Poliquin said aid to the Dreamers must wait until the country secures its borders.
Poliquin said the solution to soaring prices, a global phenomenon, is to “stop this crazy, wasteful spending of billions of dollars.”
He said his four decades of experience in the “real world” of business would help cut expenses that he says are driving up costs, especially for energy.
“Some people on stage just don’t have any real-world experience,” he said.
Golden, who served in the U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the recently passed Cut Inflation Act will make a difference in helping America’s energy independence by encouraging more drilling and infrastructure while investing in new technologies that will help the nation transition to a greener economy. coming.
Bond said Congress should consider grants and loans to encourage efforts to improve the resilience of the economy, suggesting as an example that the soon-to-close paper mill in Jay could perhaps become a site to manufacture insulin or house vertical farming.
Each of the three candidates has said they will accept the results of this year’s ranking vote.
Golden and Bond said they accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election, but Poliquin said, “There were irregularities.”
He said, however, he trusted the results in Maine.
Each of the candidates said that the fight against climate change is important.
Bond and Golden said the recent decision to add up to 87,000 Internal Revenue Service employees over the next decade is necessary to address a large backlog and respond more quickly to taxpayers.
Poliquin, however, opposed hiring IRS staff until the IRS did a better job.
“I don’t believe in rewarding incompetence,” Poliquin said.
Golden and Poliquin said they were against Biden’s decision to write off hundreds of millions of dollars in student loan debt. Golden called it a “terrible mistake”.
Bond said she would like to see the nation eliminate interest charges on everyone’s loans.
Bond and Golden said they would like to see Congress pass legislation to protect marriage equality in case the Supreme Court undermines rulings allowing same-sex marriage and interracial marriages. Poliquin said it’s best to wait and see what the court does.
Public polls have been largely non-existent in the race, but election watchers generally believe the race is going to be close.
The Cook Political Report rates it as a draw, an assessment shared by University of Virginia’s crystal ball Larry Sabato.
FiveThirtyEight sees him leaning slightly to Golden’s side. This gives him a 63% chance of being re-elected.
Fox News sees the district leaning toward Poliquin while The Economist sees it as a likely GOP victory. This gives Poliquin an 89% chance of victory.
HOW TO VOTE
Mainers have the constitutional right to vote.
Mail-in ballots will be available for this year’s election around October 11. They can be requested by mail.
Once the ballots are available, people will also be able to vote, without excuses, in town halls until Thursday, November 3.
On Election Day, any resident of Maine can vote. There is no requirement for people to register in advance.
Mills expands its fundraising advantage on LePage