BANGOR — Republican Bruce Poliquin is projected by the Bangor Daily News to have defeated Democrat Emily Cain in the race to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Independent Blaine Richardson was a distant third.
In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree easily won re-election in a three-way contest. Pingree received almost 61 percent of the vote in defeating Republican Isaac Misiuk and independent Richard Murphy.
Unofficial voting results showed Poliquin defeating Cain in eight counties in the district, including Penobscot County where Cain lives. Cain was ahead in Hancock, Franklin and Waldo counties.
All three candidates held their election parties in Bangor Tuesday night. Poliquin gathered with supporters at Dysart’s on Broadway.
“We’re tired, but we’re energized as you can see,” Poliquin said at about 9:30 p.m. “My hat goes off to my opponents in the race. Whoever wins this race has worked really really hard.”
At midnight, Poliquin’s supporters erupted in applause after WLBZ2 projected Gov. Paul LePage would win another term. Shortly after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, a staff member came out to inform the media that Poliquin wouldn’t be speaking again that night. Minutes later, Mike Michaud conceded and Gov. Paul LePage celebrated.
Cain was at the Hilton Garden Inn, where dozens of her supporters gathered to watch the results come in.
Cain spoke at midnight telling her supporters she was still optimistic about pulling out a win despite trailing by 3 percent in the voting consistently through the evening.
“I’m feeling really good about where we are,” Cain said, adding that it would be “a long night.”
“Voters are enthusiastic,” Amy Cookson, Cain’s press secretary, said earlier. “We had tremendous response at the polls for Emily.”
Richardson and his supporters watched results come in at Hero’s Sports Bar and Grill.
Poliquin and Richardson both voted just after 8 a.m. Tuesday in Oakland and Belfast, respectively, while Cain voted about 1:30 p.m. in Orono.
Polls and political analysts predicted that the race would be close between Cain and Poliquin, with Richardson a longshot.
The candidates were vying to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who has represented the district in Washington, D.C., since 2002. He didn’t run again for the seat in order to run as the Democratic nominee for governor.
That left voters with a stark choice. For decades, centrist candidates have been elected to the seat, including Michaud, Democrat John Baldacci and Republican Olympia Snowe. Poliquin and Cain both defeated more moderate members of their party in the primary elections. They fall to the right and left, respectively, of their predecessors.
Cain, 34, of Orono has served in the Legislature since 2004. She rose quickly through the ranks, serving as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and then as house minority leader from 2010 to 2012.
Poliquin, 61, of Oakland served as state treasurer under Gov. Paul LePage. He made his career as an investment banker and entered the political scene in 2010 in an unsuccessful bid for governor. He also ran for the Senate in 2012 but was defeated in the primary election.
Richardson, 64, is a retired Navy captain from Belfast who has run a low-budget campaign and polled in the single digits. Political observers say the former Republican could pull some votes away from Poliquin, though it’s not clear whether that will have an impact on the outcome.
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is the most rural district east of the Mississippi River and among the largest in land area in the country. Representatives of this district often have gone on to high-profile political careers, such as Snowe, who served in the Senate for 18 years, and Baldacci, who served two terms as governor starting in 2003.