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Who’s the Real Maine Candidate in State’s 2nd District?

Poliquin and Cain try to portray each other as out-of-touch with voters

Emily Cain talks with guests at the Franco American Heritage Center during the monthly La Rencontre (the gathering) in Lewiston earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Emily Cain talks with guests at the Franco American Heritage Center during the monthly La Rencontre (the gathering) in Lewiston earlier this month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On paper, neither of Maine’s 2nd District candidates fits the district.

They didn’t in 2014 either. But in this rematch, when both candidates now have legislative records, Democrats and Republicans are making an effort to point out how just how out-of-touch their opponents are. 

Democrat Emily Cain launched her second television ad this week with an attack on GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s regard for the people of the 2nd District.

“Bruce Poliquin looked at a campground and said, ‘Those are not my kind of people,'” says Josh Kinson, of Plymouth, a camper in the ad.

According to a column in the Portland Press Herald, Poliquin allegedly made the comment in 2000 when he was trying to convince a campground neighboring the Popham Beach Club, which he created, to scale down its operation. The club is in Phippsburg, located in the more affluent 1st District, and where Poliquin also owns an oceanfront condo development. 

The Cain campaign did not use the quote in its paid messaging in the 2014 race against Poliquin. But the strategy this time around is different. The campaign wants to highlight how Poliquin’s current record “goes back decades,” said campaign spokesman Dan Gleick.

Poliquin is a native Mainer, but given that he was worth $5.2 million in 2014 and he owns private property outside the district, he’s not exactly a typical 2nd District blue-collar voter.

Poliquin’s positive spots take on that critique. “He’s the real deal. He does take care of the people that he represents,” says a Mainer in one ad

The fight over who is the better fit for this rural district is a defining issue in this race, and Washington-based outside groups are getting in on the game. 

[Mainer Says Emily Cain Is ‘One of Us’ in Democratic Spot]

Republicans want Maine voters to know one thing about Cain: She’s just like Hillary Clinton. The Democratic presidential nominee isn’t popular in this district, with a recent poll showing her trailing Donald Trump by 10 points.

Two National Republican Congressional Committee ads attacking Cain position her next to Clinton. The latest, which debuted on Tuesday, replays Cain saying, “We need to make sure we uphold the deal,” in reference to last year’s Iran nuclear deal, four times in 3o seconds.

Cain was born and raised out of the state and has a 10-year state legislative record that Republicans have used to argue that she’s in support of higher taxes.  

“She sides with Hillary, not us. That’s why she’s wrong for Maine,” the NRCC’s first ad concludes. 

The same campers in the Cain ad make a brief appearance in a House Majority PAC ad that argues Cain is “one of us.” The Democratic super PAC’s second ad attacks Poliquin’s Wall Street experience, saying “People like that don’t fit in up here.”

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