Emily Cain and Joe Baldacci, the two Democratic congressional candidates in Maine’s Second District, seem to be squarely focused on Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin, whom they hope to face next November, with less attention or criticism spared for each other.
“We’ve got to get rid of Bruce Poliquin. He’s bad for Maine people, he’s bad for Maine’s economy,” Cain said in a recent interview with me and Ben Chin on the Beacon Podcast. She contrasted her positions as instead being “on the side of Maine women and families.”
“We need to remember the pledge he took to the Republican National Committee, that basically hands over his political agenda to them in exchange for unlimited campaign cash. Now that is so against the Maine tradition of political independence,” Baldacci had said on the previous podcast episode.
Most of our conversations with the candidates focused on their policy stances on a range of issues, but on many they were happy to contrast their views with Poliquin.
Their criticisms of each other were more veiled, but pointed towards a couple of issues that might be relevant to the Democratic Primary.
“I definitely support raising the minimum wage, I always have, and I have voted for it at least five times as a state legislature and in fact I’m the only person running in the whole race who successfully voted for and has been a part of passing a minimum wage increase in our state,” said Cain.
Baldacci has made the minimum wage his signature issue over the past year, but failed to pass a local increase in Bangor.
“I’m the only candidate in this race that has opposed tax breaks for the rich, and I would continue to do so,” said Baldacci. “I think rank and file Democratic voters want someone who will stand up for basic democratic values, like protecting the middle class.”
Cain voted for the 2011 state budget, which contained large tax cuts that primarily benefited the wealthy. She distanced herself from that vote in the 2014 Democratic Primary, but seemed to embrace it when running against Poliquin in the General Election.
Mostly, though, on issues from foreign policy to climate change to retirement security to reproductive freedom, the two candidates were in agreement, and agreed that Poliquin has to go.
“Bruce Poliquin is bad news for Maine people and, to me, the more people who are saying that, that’s a good thing,” Cain said when asked about how she views the Primary.