Blaine Richardson, a staunch conservative who left the Republican Party in order to run as an independent for the 2nd Congressional District seat, said Friday that he has rejected a request from Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin to drop out.
Richardson said, and a Poliquin spokesman confirmed, that Poliquin made the request to Richardson in a phone call Thursday night.
“If brother Bruce spent as much time worrying about his campaign as he spends worrying about me, he wouldn’t have much to worry about,” said Richardson. “I just find it incredible that a party candidate feels threatened by an independent.”
Richardson and Poliquin, the former state treasurer who has run and lost in bids for the U.S. Senate and governor’s office, are campaigning against Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain for the seat, which is being left open by Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for governor.
Poliquin spokesman Matt Hutson said Poliquin made the call to Richardson after being asked to do so by former Richardson supporters who worry that the two conservatives will split the vote and send Cain to Congress.
“It worries us that [Maine could have] someone like Emily Cain, an extreme liberal, representing us in Congress,” said Hutson. “Many former Richardson supporters who know he has no chance of winning the election asked Bruce to simply talk to Blaine about the future of Maine and the country. … Blaine seemed more interested in working with Emily Cain to bash Bruce rather than have a discussion about the future.”
Richardson, a retired Navy pilot who now works as a tradesman, said he has a chance of winning, citing the fact that he garnered 34 percent of the vote in a 2nd Congressional District primary in 2012 against former Maine Senate President Kevin Raye. He added that Poliquin drawing attention to his candidacy by asking him to pull out could be one of the biggest boosts his current campaign has seen.
“I got thousands of votes against Kevin and I was a complete unknown four months before that primary,” said Richardson. “I don’t care what either of these two candidates do. I’ve got my message and my message hasn’t changed. I’m staying in the race. I’m so fed up with the parties, both of them.”
This isn’t the first time in recent months that Poliquin has singled Richardson out. Poliquin said earlier this summer that he would not participate in any campaign debate with Richardson. That prompted Cain and Richardson to hold a joint press conference at the State House in late July where they said they would not participate in any debate to which all three candidates were not invited.
Hutson said Poliquin has committed to two debates and that talks are underway to schedule more. Cain could not be reached Friday evening for comment.
LePage camp praises NFL commissioner for about-face on domestic violence
Earlier this month, Gov. Paul LePage sent a scathing letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging him to impose stricter penalties against players or team personnel accused of domestic violence. LePage’s letter was among a national outcry against Goodell for what was perceived as a too-lenient stance.
LePage’s letter came after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on domestic violence charges stemming from a videotaped incident with his then-fiance in February, for which the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension. Goodell announced Thursday that effective immediately, any NFL employee or player who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will be suspended without pay for six games, according to a New York Times article. A second offense will lead to suspension from the league for a year or more.
LePage campaign spokesman Alex Willette said Friday that LePage was pleased with Goodell’s decision but that it doesn’t go far enough.
“The governor takes domestic violence very seriously and this is definitely a move in the right direction,” said Willette. “The reality is that domestic violence needs to have zero tolerance in society as a while, especially in the NFL where these folks are held up as role models to many people.”