Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, has, through his energetic style and prodigious fundraising, earned attention in a way not often seen for a first-term congressman. But he has also sided regularly with the House Republicans whose obstructionism gives Congress its bad name, and whose efforts are largely centered on repealing the significant gains of the Obama administration.

For those reasons, and for Democrat Emily Cain’s solid legislative record and firm grasp of the federal issues facing Maine, we are endorsing Cain in the Nov. 8 election. She was an effective legislator, and she has been an energetic campaigner, too, reaching out to Mainers throughout the 2nd Congressional District and showing an ability to connect warmly and empathetically with voters of all backgrounds and political leanings, traits that will serve her well as a congresswoman.

Poliquin has had some admirable victories. He brought to the finish line the effort to have athletic footwear covered under the Berry Amendment, which will ensure American-made sneakers are bought by the military, a boon to Maine’s New Balance employees. Along with the the rest of the state’s congressional delegation, he successfully stood up to Sweden’s proposal to ban Maine lobsters from the European Union, saving $200 million in annual exports.

But he has also, time and again, sided with the tea-party caucus against important issues related to health care, national security, and civil and worker rights.

PARTY-LINE VOTES

Poliquin was one of seven Republicans in the U.S. House to change votes to defeat a measure aimed at upholding President Obama’s executive order barring discrimination against LGBT employees by religious organizations that contract with the federal government. He also voted to repeal long-overdue changes to the rules governing overtime that were allowing companies to exploit workers.

Poliquin was part of a party-line vote to permanently bar federal funding for abortion, and though he voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, he is only waiting for a Republican-approved alternative to surface.

Based on the ideas coming out of the party, we have no confidence that a Republican alternative would fix the ACA in a way that will preserve its best features, nor does it seem plausible that Poliquin will work with Democrats to improve the ACA in the way that is necessary.

Poliquin is also opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, which we believe made the world safer by slowing the ability of Iran to make nuclear materials and increasing monitoring. It was the most realistic way to bring the international community together on the issue, and it should stay, against the wishes of the many Republicans.

Finally, Poliquin is adamantly opposed to the new national monument near Millinocket, which we feel is an exciting development for the region, particularly if it is a step toward a national park.

Cain, meanwhile, is on the right side of all those issues. She backs LGBT and worker rights. She supports fine-tuning the ACA and protecting access to health care, including a women’s right to an abortion. And unlike Poliquin, she would be part of a caucus that supports full funding for Social Security and maintaining Medicare in its current form, not replacing it with a voucher system.

In addition, she backs the Iran deal, and though her stance on the national monument has been somewhat tortured, she is ultimately supportive.

RIGHT SIDE OF ISSUES

Cain also said she would also angle for a committee spot advantageous to Maine, such as the Agriculture Committee. Poliquin is on the Financial Services Committee, which fits his Wall Street background but does little to directly impact the state.

Cain, whose experience in the Maine Legislature as a leader for both the majority and minority party would certainly benefit her in Congress, has been open and forthright about her positions on these issues throughout the campaign.

That’s in direct contrast to Poliquin, who has frequently dodged questions, particularly those related to his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

It is troubling that Poliquin refuses to say publicly whether he supports Trump, even as Trump has made the 2nd District a focus of his campaign. Trump has exhibited character flaws and a dearth of policy knowledge unprecedented among modern major-party candidates, and Maine residents deserve to hear what the congressman thinks.

Based on that lack of response as well as his political experience, there is little hope that Poliquin would work with a President Hillary Clinton. Nor would he push back against a Freedom Caucus that would either be conducting another four years of obstructionism, or – God forbid – advancing the agenda of a President Donald Trump.

Emily Cain, on the other hand, would be another vote for maintaining and building on the advancements of the last eight years while looking out for Maine’s interests in Washington. For that, she has earned our endorsement.