Poliquin, a former Wall Street investment manager who was later named state treasurer, flipped that north Maine constituency during the 2014 GOP wave and kept it as his district two years later swings from 53-44 Obama to 51-41 Trump. However, the Republican incumbent learned the hard way in 2018 that the region had not given up its democratic roots. Golden ran a strong campaign highlighting his service with the Marines, and that race ended attract large sums of foreign money from both parties.
The competition also took an odd turn in the past few days when Poliquin broadcast an advertisement at a local hot dog restaurant with guests clumsy and unconvincing praise him and diss the challenger. Some sample dialogues from the actors, many of which were actually local Republican officials: “One thing is for sure, Bruce Poliquin is good for Jobs” and “Stop Mainers from buying fuel oil? Golden is out there.”
The spot also featured a doctor wearing a lab coat with the Central Maine Medical Center logo on it, prompting the hospital to publicly promote the campaign to end the commercial. Poliquin’s team of course refused to even make a small change to remove the logo.
Poliquin topped Golden 49-47 among first-choice voter preferences on election night, but that wasn’t enough under the 2016 Voters-approved Instant Runoff Act. Golden prevailed in the end 50.6-49.4 once the votes were assigned to subsequent preferences as smaller candidates were eliminated, a result that made Poliquin the first incumbent lose re-election in the 2nd district since 1916.
However, the defeated congressman responded with a lawsuit arguing that the ranking electoral law violated the constitution. Poliquin’s lawsuit was frivolous, and both a district court and an appeals court strongly rejected his legal arguments since nothing in the constitutional provisions cited by him even remotely prohibits the use of the immediate runoff election, which several states have for foreign and military voters Years to comply with federal law regarding postal voting. Poliquin eventually dropped all of his legal challenges a full seven weeks after election day, but never acknowledged his defeat.
The now-ex-incumbent soon expressed interest in a 2020 rematch and took every chance to pretend he was the rightful winner of the last race. In April 2019, Poliquin scolded that he had “won in 2018” and that his defeat was illegitimate because “[w]e have this thing called ranked voting, “which is” the biggest scam I’ve ever seen in my entire life “.
Not everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of a Poliquin return, although. That National magazine reported that even Republican agents who believed he could beat Golden thought he made some serious mistakes in 2018, and they highlighted his hot dog restaurant commercial with particular disdain. The former congressman finally announced that while it “pained him to run again”, he would skip the cycle to take care of his sick parents; Donald Trump soon nominated Poliquin for a volunteer service on the board of directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, but the Senate never performed a confirmation vote.
However, the Republicans might have been better if, for all his mistakes, Poliquin had been their standard bearer in 2020. Eventual GOP nominee Dale Crafts struggled to raise money and had large groups on both sides drastically reduced ad purchases in the final weeks of the race to focus elsewhere. Ultimately golden repelled Crafts 53-47 also as his seat supports Trump 52-45.