Former Republican state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin announced Monday that he’s running for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, now held by Democrat Mike Michaud.
Poliquin confirmed his intentions during the George Hale and Ric Tyler radio show on WVOM, ending several months of speculation that he was interested in succeeding Michaud, who’s now a gubernatorial candidate.
The congressional race has drawn attention from national political interests since Michaud declared that he’s running governor in 2014.
Poliquin may be the best- known Republican to declare his candidacy. He did not respond to requests for comment Monday, and he has not formally filed his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.
He told the radio show hosts that he is getting into the race because he is disturbed at the direction of the country.
“We have a permanent class of politicians,” he said. “Instead of doing what is right, to make sure we have a healthy economy so our kids can find jobs, they instead do what they think we want to hear.”
This will be Poliquin’s third run for a popularly elected office. In 2012, he finished second in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe.
The $229,000 he raised for that race was second to Scott D’Amboise, who was in the race for more than a year before Poliquin and four other Republicans entered after Snowe announced her retirement.
In 2010, Poliquin finished sixth out of seven Republican candidates for governor, despite spending more than $710,000 of his own money.
Undeterred by those losses, Poliquin continues to harbor political ambitions. He is a loyal ally of Gov. Paul LePage and has maintained a relatively high public profile since his term as treasurer ended when Democrats regained control of the Legislature in December.
In addition to appearing regularly on radio shows, Poliquin has blogged for the Portland Press Herald. He suspended the blog when he hinted that he was considering a congressional bid.
As in his previous campaigns, Poliquin enters what will likely be a large field of candidates, who hope to fill the seat that Michaud has held for six two-year terms.
Poliquin lives in Georgetown, which is in the 1st Congressional District, but legally he can run in the 2nd District.
The Qualification Clause of the U.S. Constitution defines the requirements for a candidate, saying he or she must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, must be at least 25 years old and must be an “inhabitant” of the state when elected.
Courts have rejected states’ efforts to beef up residency requirements, including a California law that required candidates to register to vote in the state before filing nomination papers.
In 2000, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law violated the Qualification Clause, which allows out-of-state candidates to run for office until they’re elected. The lead judge on the panel said the law could discourage people with homes in other states from running for Congress.
Its legality notwithstanding, Poliquin’s residency could become fodder for political rivals. Poliquin previously lived in Waterville, which was part of the 2nd District before last year’s congressional redistricting.
Former Republican state Senate President Kevin Raye is also considering a run in the 2nd District. It would be his third attempt to win the seat. The former staffer for Snowe lost to Michaud in 2012 and 2002.
Raye is considered a prolific fundraiser and his connections within the party would make him a formidable opponent.
Republican candidates also include Blaine Richardson of Belfast and state Rep. Alex Willette of Mapleton, the assistant House minority leader. Former state Sen. Richard Rosen of Bucksport is rumored to be weighing a run.
Like Raye, Rosen was a legislative leader and is experienced in raising money for statewide races.
Former House Republican leader Josh Tardy, now a lobbyist, considered a run for the 2nd District but confirmed Monday that he’s not entering the race.
Tardy said he made his decision for “personal reasons,” while he is busy running two businesses and coaching basketball.
“I did the due diligence, like any candidate who is considering something like this should,” he said. “If I was going to be in, I would be all in.”
Sen. Emily Cain of Orono, Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash and Alden Smith of Sangerville have announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District.
The 2014 governor’s race is poised to get the most attention in Maine, but national interests are already focusing on the 2nd District race. Democrats have held the seat since 1995.
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, released a statement recently saying Michaud’s entry in the governor’s race further doomed Democrats’ already dim chances of retaking the U.S. House in 2014.
Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: