Are the tides turning in Poliquin’s favor?

Maine's 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin, a Republican,  in June. BDN file photo by Brian Feulner

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, in June. BDN file photo by Brian Feulner

It’s been a good few days for Bruce Poliquin. The GOP candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District gained a lead over the Democratic contender, state Sen. Emily Cain in a recent poll, though for months this has been called a tight race. He also pulled in an important endorsement, was paid a visit by one of the biggest names in the Republican Party and will likely benefit from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $1.5 million television advertisement that attacks Cain’s record on energy.

The poll, conducted by the Portland Press Herald from Sept. 18 through 25, has 40 percent of the 220 likely voters supporting Poliquin, 30 percent supporting Cain and 3 percent supporting Independent Blaine Richardson, according to PPH reporter Steve Mistler. A June poll conducted by the paper had Cain leading with 44 percent of the vote compared to Poliquin’s 39 percent.

The NRCC’s 30 second ad taps into widespread anxiety over the situation that is unfolding in Iraq and Syria by claiming that Cain’s policies would make the U.S. more dependent on the region for energy. The ad, which does not mention Poliquin, shows footage of what looks like ISIS fighters clad all in black marching with large automatic weapons while a voice over says, “A dangerous world, threatening America. We need to be energy independent, but Emily Cain would make us more reliant on Middle East oil.”

The ad says Cain opposes the Keystone Pipeline and the development of natural gas in Maine. 

In a response sent out Tuesday, Cain’s campaign called the ad “fear-mongering” and said that Cain supports bringing more natural gas to Maine and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“This ad attempts to tie Emily to terrorism and we aren’t surprised to see this coming from desperate politicians like Bruce Poliquin and his rich allies,” Levi Knapp, Cain’s campaign manager, said in the statement.

The press release points out that Cain voted in support of the 2013 bill that attempts to lower energy costs in Maine by encouraging the expansion of natural gas here.

Here’s the NRCC ad:

It will run in the Portland and Bangor areas for a week, according to Ian Prior, the NRCC’s regional press secretary.

Then on Tuesday, Poliquin was endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Back in May, the NRA endorsed Poliquin’s opponent, Kevin Raye, in the primary. Raye’s spokesman said at the time that Poliquin’s record did not align with the NRA because he had donated $500 to an organization called Handgun Control in 1989 and supported mandatory background checks when he ran for governor in 2010.

During this election season, Poliquin has made a point of declaring his support for the pro-gun group.

“I am deeply honored to receive the support of the NRA,” he said in a prepared statement that was released Tuesday. “It has been a long time since Maine’s 2nd District has had a true advocate for the 2nd Amendment in Washington.” 

All this comes on the heels of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s visit last week. The speaker came to Portland to help host a fundraiser for the Republican candidate in Portland, which is outside of the 2nd Congressional District. The GOP’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District, Isaac Misiuk, who is trailing incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree, was not told of the event.

Cain and Poliquin will participate in a Bangor Daily News/WGME debate in Portland on Oct. 14.

Nell Gluckman

About Nell Gluckman

Nell is the education reporter for the Bangor Daily News, but she will be helping out the political team by covering the 2nd Congressional District election this year. Before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2013, Nell worked for the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. She is a graduate of George Washington and Columbia Universities. Originally from New York City, Nell now lives in Bangor.