In this file photo, former Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin greets supporters at his 2018 election night party in Bangor. Credit: Gabor Degre

Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said on Sunday he wouldn’t run for the seat he was ousted from in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020, citing “family priorities” and saying he’s “itching to run again.”

The Republican had been mum on his plans after losing a 2018 ranked-choice voting race to Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden. Poliquin unsuccessfully challenged the voting method in federal court and pushed the race to a recount before calling it off in mid-December.

Poliquin had still been a regular at party events during 2019, as former state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, publicly moved toward a run while saying he was in touch with the former congressman. Brakey, the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate nominee, filed for the race last week.

In a Sunday post on Facebook, Poliquin noted that he was the last surviving child of his parents, who are now 91 and 89 years old. He said it’s “my turn and responsibility to help care for them,” that his “family priorities will not allow me to run for public office next year” and he’s “itching to run again” to avenge the ranked-choice voting loss.

“I’ll continue to speak up and battle for what’s right for Maine and America,” he said. “There are lots of ways I’m already helping Republicans win next November. Then, we’ll see what the future holds for 2022.”

If he had run again, 2020 would have marked a sixth consecutive major campaign for Poliquin. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010 and in a U.S. Senate primary in 2012 before winning the nationally targeted 2nd District seat in 2014 and 2016.

Politicians like Poliquin, 65, who are eyeing higher office, may have plenty of opportunities over the next four years. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, is up for re-election in 2022, though former Republican Gov. Paul LePage has been teasing a potential run then. U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, has said his term expiring in 2024 is likely to be his last one.

The move leaves Brakey alone in the Republican primary for now, though the Maine Republican Party said on Sunday it has been “contacted by several individuals in running just recently.”

Poliquin’s last two runs were marked by a reticence to publicly endorse President Donald Trump, a Republican who carried the 2nd District in a historic 2016 split of Maine. Since leaving office, he has embraced Trump and his rhetorical style more in public statements.

In his Sunday post, Poliquin said he was “eager” to help Trump “secure our borders and stop the invasion of illegals (sic) aliens” as well as lowering prescription drug costs and helping small businesses, adding that “liberal Democrats” will simply “obstruct and criticize.”

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...