Here’s a definitive answer to a difficult question.
Is freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District vulnerable at the polls in November?
The definitive answer is no – mostly because there’s no election this November. So, unless Golden stubs his toe on a mothballed voting machine, he should survive intact.
However, if the question is rephrased to ask about Golden’s chances in November 2020, the answer is less clear. Before we can arrive at even an inconclusive conclusion, we have to consider several variables.
Will the world even exist in November 2020?
If not, will that negatively affect voter turnout?
And will Bruce Poliquin run again?
The wishy-washy answers are probably, probably and probably.
Poliquin, the Republican ex-congressman who lost this seat in last year’s election, appears to have already hit the campaign trail. According to a Bangor Daily News column by political strategist Lance Dutson, Poliquin “has been crisscrossing the state attending GOP county meetings and dinners to keep himself in the spotlight.”
Funny sort of spotlight, since no one except Dutson and a few Republican insiders can see it. But it’s fair to say, Poliquin is lurking in the shadows, still muttering about how he was robbed of his office by ranked-choice voting.
Which is true and happens to be the only good thing about RCV.
As a comeback candidate, Poliquin has lots of baggage. After losing the 2018 election, he refused to concede, instead filing futile lawsuits to have ranked-choice declared unconstitutional and to block Maine’s secretary of state from officially declaring Golden the winner.
And he acted like a spoiled brat by threatening to hold his breath until his face turned blue. He bailed on both that threat and his legal challenges, which is too bad. I really wanted to see the former.
There’s also the matter of public accountability. Poliquin spent his two terms in Congress refusing to answer questions from the news media, avoiding any forum where members of the public might express their opinions, and scurrying into Capitol Hill bathrooms when he didn’t even have to pee.
Come on, dude, somebody else needs that stall.
There’s also the fuzzy nature of Poliquin’s official residence, which was a post office box in Oakland. (He’s short, but not that short.) He actually lived on his estate in Georgetown, which is in the 1st District. That’s semi-legal – and sleazy.
It’s unlikely Poliquin will have an unimpeded path to the GOP nomination. At least two former state senators, both of whom actually live in the 2nd District, have expressed interest in the race.
Eric Brakey of Auburn ran against independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018 and lost by 19 points. It might have been worse, but an inconsequential Democrat drained a few points from King’s total. Brakey is a libertarian, who balances precariously on the fine line between rational efforts to limit government and full-fledged kookiness.
Nichi Farnham of Bangor has served as that city’s mayor and a single term in the Legislature, where she earned a reputation for loyalty to former Republican Gov. Paul LePage. After losing her bid for re-election, Farnham was consoled by LePage with an appointment to the state Board of Education. She hasn’t been heard from since.
Maybe somebody should check the restroom.
All of which means that I can definitely state that despite the national parties rating the 2nd District as a toss-up, Golden’s re-election chances look pretty good.
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