The contenders in Maine’s increasingly heated 2nd District congressional race are getting testy.

Both Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Jared Golden, the Democrat who hopes to unseat him, complained this week about campaign advertising they said crossed the line.

When Golden read a Maine Republican Party post on Facebook calling into question his commitment to military service, he decided to fire back.

The Marine Corps veteran, who served two combat tours after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, called “this misleading attack” something that’s “indicative of the morally bankrupt leadership” of the state Republican Party.

Soon after, the Republicans fired back, accusing Golden of running a “pretty tasteless” television commercial in which the Democrat, standing on a lobster boat, said it was time to throw Poliquin overboard.

Poliquin, a two-term incumbent, said the words and image weren’t respectful of the awful reality that his wife and father-in-law drowned in a riptide decades ago and left him alone to raise his son.

“People should be sensitive” enough to avoid resurrecting tough memories and hard times, Poliquin said.

He said many Mainers have suffered hardships along the way and politicians ought to try to be sensitive to them and to focus on issues that matter to people.

The executive director of the state’s Republican Party, Jason Savage, said in a prepared statement that Golden “is crying foul over his exact quote being publicized on social media while his campaign is running a television ad associated with the most painful and tragic moment of his opponent’s personal life. Jared Golden needs to take responsibility for his words and his actions.”

Bobby Reynolds, Golden’s communications chief, said nobody had raised any complaints about the ad for the first 10 days it aired, but since there is no desire by his side to reopen an old wound, “we won’t run it again” after it ends its scheduled appearances soon.

Reynolds said he found it suspicious that the Maine Republican Party “raised not a peep” about the commercial until “they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar with the fourth attack on Jared’s military service” this month.

Coming on the heels of television commercials smearing his Marine T-shirt and the tattoos the candidate got during his service, including some honoring his unit, Golden and his staff saw the 2nd District campaign turning into a Republican-led assault on the Marines.

“We’re just not going to take it anymore,” Reynolds said. “They screwed with the wrong Marine.”

The Republicans’ Facebook post showed a photo from a 2010 Bates College publication depicting Golden with a friend and a quote pulled from the story in which the candidate, then a student, said, “Some people, I’m happy to say, don’t really associate me with my military experience anymore.”

Reynolds said the Republicans cherry-picked the comment “to try to indicate Jared Golden is a fake Marine.”

The Maine Republican Party’s Nina McLaughlin said Golden “is running from his own words. We published Jared Golden’s exact words, shining a light on his own choice to say one thing to one group of people and something totally different to others.”

The notion that Golden hasn’t embraced his military service didn’t sit well with the Democrat.

“No one is more proud of their military service than I,” Golden said. “The people behind this cheap political stunt chose not to volunteer to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Golden said that when he came home after two combat tours in the Marines, he wanted to continue to serve his community and country, a path that led him to the State House and he hopes to Congress.

Golden said that Poliquin’s silence about the attacks on his military service imply his consent about “these deplorable political tactics. I call on him to show some courage and class to condemn this attack for what it is: dishonest and dishonorable.”

Poliquin and Golden are in a four-way race in the Nov. 6 election. Also in the running are independents Will Hoar and Tiffany Bond.

[email protected]