Republican state Rep. Mike Perkins said former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who hopes to regain his old 2nd District congressional seat, is going to face a much tougher primary than many expect.

Michael Perkins File photo

“I will beat Bruce Poliquin. Mark my words,” Perkins said Friday.

Perkins, who has led Oakland’s town council for 14 years, said he’ll defeat the ex-lawmaker by outworking him.

“I’m not giving up,” he said. “If there’s a GOP event going on, I’m there.”

Perkins, 59, said he’s already driving 3,000 miles a week to talk with party loyalists everywhere from Rumford to Eastport.

Republicans will decide June 14 next year whether they want to give Poliquin a chance to win back the seat he lost in 2018 to Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston. The only other challenger in the GOP field, state Sen. Trey Stewart of Presque Isle, pulled out of the race this week rather than take on Poliquin.

But Perkins won’t go away so easily.

He said he knows that the 67-year-old Poliquin, a developer and former investment manager on Wall Street, will spend 10 times as much money on the race as he can, but that won’t matter.

“I’m not a multimillionaire,” Perkins said. “I’m a Mainer through and through.”

Perkins said he won’t sling mud at Poliquin “but he’s not one of us.”

“I’m the average Joe,” he said, working a wide variety of jobs to make a living, including 34 years as a police officer, driving a truck, milking cows, mowing grass, operating a driver’s education company and much more.

“We need a normal person in there. We don’t need an elitist,” Perkins said.

Perkins, a three-term state legislator, said he jumped into the race this year after Poliquin told him he didn’t plan to run. He said Poliquin indicated he planned to care for his ailing, elderly parents instead, the same reason he gave publicly in 2020 for staying out of the race versus Golden.

But this month Poliquin jumped into the fray, citing a range of national issues such as border security in the Southwest for his decision.

Perkins said Poliquin comes at the race from a different place than he does.

He pointed to his experience working seven days a week, scrambling to find money for things like new tires and a deep understanding of what it’s like for average Mainers.

“Why wouldn’t anybody pick me over him?” Perkins asked. “There’s nothing fake about me.”

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