Democratic Troy Jackson lost his primary against Emily Cain and Republican Kevin Raye lost his against Bruce Poliquin, but their comments had one important thing in common.
Bruce Poliquin was on both of their minds, as Jackson endorsed Cain and Raye talked about the meaning of Poliquin’s victory.
Here’s what Troy Jackson said:
Jackson said he would be supporting Cain, “wholeheartedly.” “I don’t want to see someone like Bruce Poliquin be our next congressman,” Jackson said. “So I’m going to do everything I can to make sure she is our next congressperson.” [source]
Here’s what Kevin Raye said:
“[A]s Raye thanked small groups of supporters, he said to some that Poliquin’s nomination could hurt the party’s chances of winning Michaud’s seat in November, lamenting a more conservative direction in the party nationally. “It says something about the direction of the Republican Party,” Raye said. [source]
“He certainly has sought to position himself to the far right,” said Raye of Poliquin before the election results were clear. “If he wins today, I expect he’d have a hard time in the general election.” [source]
Raye, in contrast to Jackson’s comments on Cain, did not endorse Poliquin on election night.
A center-right candidate in a party with Gov. LePage as its party leader, Raye rejected the no-compromise position of Poliquin (which is a lot like veto-loving LePage’s approach).
Endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus, which also endorsed Ted Cruz, Jim DeMint and Mike Lee, Poliquin staked his position on the far right.
Poloquin’s win, along with the stunning primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), shows that the tea party wing of the Republican party is alive and well.
That’s the “direction of the Republican party” Kevin Raye pointed to on election night.
And that’s what Troy Jackson was thinking about when he “wholeheartedly” endorsed Cain.
How will second district voters react to Poliquin?
As I said last night:
The anti-compromise attitude has made governing on a national level very difficult. Mainers have traditionally been pragmatists.
Rep. Michaud, now in the seat, is part of a decades-long string of moderate office-holders. He was preceded by John Baldacci, another moderate Democrat.
Centrist Republican Olympia Snowe was elected to the district starting in 1978, with Republican moderate Bill Cohen holding the seat before her.
Poliquin is certainly not in the mold of such moderates, whether center-right or center-left. And now he’s running against a Democrat, Emily Cain, who touted her commitment to working in a bipartisan way. (Blaine Richardson, a tea party candidate who did surprisingly well against Raye in the 2012 primary, will also be on the fall ballot.)
One last thing: Social Security may be a key issue in this campaign. The district has an older population than the rest of Maine and the major party candidates have very different positions. Poliquin has discussed raising the retirement age for Social Security, while Cain supports raising the income cap for financing the program.