BANGOR — U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin claimed victory over Democratic challenger Emily Cain early Wednesday morning in the race to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

With 73 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared Poliquin the winner of the race with 55 percent of the vote compared to Cain’s 45 percent.

After closing the night at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Poliquin appeared at Dysart’s Restaurant around 12 a.m. Wednesday to accept victory in the race and pledging to work “non-stop” for the people of Maine.

Poliquin was joined in front of a crowd of about 100 people, many of whom cheered for him as he entered the room, by his son, Sam.

“The reason I’m doing this is because of Sam and his generation and the generation after that,” Poliquin said. “We need to continue — all of us, at the federal, state and local level — to make sure that government has compassion and that governments helps to grow more jobs and create more opportunities.”

Cain was scheduled to appear at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, where her campaign was based for the night, but she had not appeared by 11:30 p.m. Dan Gleick, press secretary for Cain, said early Wednesday that the campaign was still waiting for final results but that “Either way Emily will accept the final result and keep working on behalf of the people of Maine.”


The 2nd District race was a rematch of 2014’s contest between Poliquin, a Republican from Oakland, and Cain, a former state lawmaker from Orono. The race has shattered campaign spending records for congressional races in Maine, drawing more than $15 million from the campaigns themselves as well as outside donors, and has also been targeted by national parties in efforts to secure a legislative majority in Washington.

In addition to Republicans’ early lead in the 2nd District Congressional race, the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, also appeared poised to secure one of Maine’s electoral votes in the 2nd District, dividing the state’s electoral votes for the first time in history.

Poliquin, in his remarks, said he was “appalled” by the spending in the race. Throughout the campaign he declined numerous times to comment on Trump and also would not directly respond to questions about the candidate, who also appeared poised to win, saying only that he would “work with everyone” over the next two years.

Earlier Tuesday, the candidates closed out the election cycle standing just feet away from each other at the entrance to the Cross Insurance Center.

Cain said around 7 p.m. that she was feeling positive in the final hours of her 2016 campaign.

“I’m ready,” she said. “I think we’ve done every possible thing we can to make this election about Maine people and make sure they have someone in Washington that has their backs.”


Poliquin, meanwhile, declined to comment on the race Tuesday night while at the polls and said a reporter was “obstructing the way” of voters by approaching him.

Voters Tuesday in Bangor, Newport and Skowhegan were divided between the candidates, though many expressed more interest in the presidential race than in the congressional re-match.

Shannon Thaller, 45, of Skowhegan, said Tuesday that she voted for Poliquin as well as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying she liked that Poliquin “had been in office and has common-sense views.”

Suzanne Tilton, also of Skowhegan, said she too voted for Poliquin. She said nothing in particular stood out about Poliquin, but “I like what he strives for — keeping jobs in the U.S.”

Her main reason for coming to the polls was the presidential race, in which she cast her ballot for Donald Trump.

“I like that he’s not a politician. It’s time for some change,” said Tilton, 50.


In Bangor, Democrat Ken Putman said he voted for Cain. “I think she cares about her constituents,” said Putnam, 69. “We can count on her to be there and vote every time there’s a roll call.”

Keith Skeffington, an independent also from Bangor, voted for Cain and said that while he felt both sides spent too much money in the race, he supported Cain because she “didn’t dodge questions” in debates.

But some voters also expressed disinterest in the race and said they mainly came to the polls to vote in the presidential race or on Maine’s six referendum questions.

Icara Innis, 37, a Democrat and a Bangor voter, said she doesn’t usually vote unless it’s a presidential election year. When asked whether she had put much thought into the 2nd District race, Innis said “not really,” but that she voted for Cain because “I just went with the Democrat on that one.”

In Skowhegan, resident Melanie Barrett, who is not enrolled in any party, said she voted for Poliquin but hadn’t spent much time researching the race. Instead, she was drawn to the polls to weigh in on the presidential race and Question 3, which asked Mainers whether they want to institute universal background checks. “This election has been crazy,” said Barrett, 31. “I didn’t feel either (presidential nominee) was a great candidate, and my vote was based more on my dislike of Clinton than my like for Trump.”

On Question 3, Barrett said she felt “it hit a lot of people here in Maine. Of course I voted no on that one.”


Two years ago Poliquin defeated Cain by a five-point margin, with conservative independent Blaine Richardson taking 11 percent of the vote.

Both candidates have raised more than $3.1 million this election cycle, contributing to a record-breaking more than $15 million in campaign and outside spending in Maine’s 2nd District. As in 2014, Poliquin has maintained a cash on hand advantage over Cain, going into the election with over $1 million.

On the issues, the candidates sparred this election cycle over taxes, the future of the state’s paper industry and economy and each other’s personal records.

Poliquin has attacked Cain for her support of a carbon tax and for “trying to have it both ways” by taking credit for the state’s largest tax cuts in a 2011 state budget she helped shape while saying at the time that her caucus “hated” the tax cuts. Cain, meanwhile, has called Poliquin a “Wall Street banker” whose interests align more with his donors than his constituents, and has also criticized his personal policy on taxes after the Associated Press reported in August that Poliquin was late 41 times in paying property taxes, including after taking office as a congressman.

As in 2014, Poliquin pointed to Cain’s youth and “lack of experience” and has also criticized her for growing up in New Jersey. She made a key issue out of his refusal to comment on Trump and said a key difference between the two is that voters “will always know where I stand.”

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