Let’s play the exciting new game “Guess What High Public Office Bruce Poliquin Will Run For Next.”
On Mother’s Day, Poliquin sent an email to supporters (and, for some odd reason, me) informing us, “We’re nothing without our mothers – literally!”
This could be interpreted as meaning that some moms have a lot to answer for. But I don’t suppose that was Brucie’s intent.
In the recent past, Poliquin, the diminutive (both literally and figuratively) former Republican congressman from Maine’s 2nd District, has run unsuccessfully for governor and U.S. Senate. But in 2014, due to massive ineptness by Democratic nominee Emily Cain, he was elected as U.S. representative for northern, eastern, western and much of central Maine. In 2016, Democrats proved themselves to be learning-impaired by again running Cain, with predictable results.
These twin victories apparently convinced Poliquin he was invulnerable, so he stopped making any pretense of answering questions from the news media. In one much-publicized incident, he went so far as to attempt to escape a reporter in Washington by fleeing into a women’s restroom.
Looking for mom?
Poliquin enhanced his reputation for being evasive and duplicitous when recordings of him speaking to private GOP fundraisers surfaced, showing him contradicting his public statements on issues. Still, he figured that since he represented a district Donald Trump had carried easily, he had no worries.
As with most things Trump-related, that turned out badly.
In 2018, Poliquin lost a close race, decided by ranked-choice voting, to Democrat Jared Golden. Poliquin refused to concede, charging that ranked-choice was unconstitutional and unmotherly. He filed a legal challenge seeking to have the results overturned, claiming he’d take the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then, he hid in a women’s bathroom, and the case fizzled out.
Even so, Poliquin was widely expected to try to reclaim his old seat this year, but last August, he announced he was skipping the race to care for his elderly parents. That mom thing again. He did, however, indicate he might run for something in 2022.
But what something?
Poliquin doesn’t give many clues in his Mother’s Day email. He claims he’s been “staying in the fight for common-sense solutions” to the state’s problems. He takes credit for “holding Gov. Janet Mills accountable” for her pandemic precautions. He wants to be recognized for “exposing” legislative Democrats’ excessive spending. He rails against open borders. And he hasn’t given up on getting rid of ranked-choice voting.
Poliquin has a new website. He’s a regular on any talk radio station that will have him. He pontificates on social media. And he churns out newspaper op-ed pieces. In other words, he’s been acting exactly like a candidate.
Trouble is, candidates, like journalists, aren’t in high demand. Let’s run down his 2022 options.
There’s no U.S. Senate race in Maine that year.
There will be a gubernatorial election, but the GOP already has former Gov. Paul LePage clogging up the pipeline for that nomination. It’s doubtful Poliquin has the guts for a messy primary fight against a political ally.
In the 2nd District, prospects are equally murky. If Golden is successful in winning reelection this year, Poliquin would have to face a guy who’s already beaten him and is now the incumbent. If Golden loses, there’ll be a Republican in that seat, blocking the road to his political revival.
The 1st District might be a possibility, although only in the event Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree retires, and the coronavirus causes her liberal constituency to move away or die. Otherwise, the conservative Poliquin would stand no chance. (He does have one small advantage in southern Maine: He actually lives there, in contrast to the fake residency he set up when he represented the 2nd District.)
One last, longshot possibility: If the GOP regains control of the Legislature this year or in 2022, Poliquin could be chosen for his old post as state treasurer.
Not as glitzy as Congress or the Blaine House, but it beats a ladies’ washroom.
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