AUGUSTA, Maine — A former congressman and a selectman from Somerset County will compete to challenge U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District later this year in a swing district that is a top target for national Republicans this fall.
Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin looks like the heavy favorite in a primary against Caratunk selectman Liz Caruso this June. Maine otherwise looks to have a relatively low-key primary season, a change from past years when open gubernatorial or congressional seats attracted several candidates.
In the Republican primary for the 2nd District, Poliquin has outraised Caruso by a mile, bringing in nearly $1.5 million through the end of last year compared to her roughly $16,000. He also has the backing of national groups affiliated with Republican leadership.
The former congressman has looked to highlight inflation and immigration issues early in his campaign. Caruso, a selectman from Caratunk, was active in efforts to halt the Central Maine Power Co. corridor in western Maine, although her congressional campaign so far has largely touched on more typical Republican issues.
Although several other Republicans had expressed interest in running in the 2nd District, none of them qualified for the ballot. It could make for a less competitive primary compared with previous years. In 2020, three Republicans competed to face Golden, with the nomination ultimately won by former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon. Golden beat two other Democrats in a primary to face Poliquin in 2018.
Other top-tier races will not see competitive primaries this year. Both Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage will run unopposed in June. In Maine’s 1st Congressional District, Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger Ed Thelander, will also run unopposed. Golden also has no primary challenger.
There are more than a dozen primaries in legislative races, some which include familiar candidates. Maine Senate District 8, which spans Orono and more than a dozen other towns in northwestern Penobscot County, will see primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Among Democrats, progressive activist Mike Tipping will face brewery owner Abe Furth, while Grace Ann Tibbetts and Eric Rojo of Lincoln will compete in a Republican primary.
In Senate District 13, where Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, opted not to run for reelection, lawyer David Levesque of Newcastle and school counselor Cameron Reny of Bristol will compete in a primary to replace her. Former state Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro is running unopposed on the Republican side in the swing district.
Republicans have a three-way primary in Senate District 16, with state Rep. Mike Perkins, R-Oakland, faces Navy veteran Kevin Kitchin of Fairfield and former Maine House candidate Mark Andre of Oakland for the chance to represent more than a dozen towns across Kennebec, Somerset and Penobscot counties. David LaFountain of Winslow is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
In the Democratic primary for Maine House District 126, which covers parts of Westbrook and Scarborough, former state Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook, the chair of the Maine Democratic Party, will face Scarborough Town Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina.
Rep. John Andrews, R-Paris, who left the Republican party at the end of 2020 to become a Libertarian but later returned, will face primary challengers Dannie Abbott of West Paris and Ryan Ricci of Paris as Andrews looks to run again as a Republican in House District 79.
Party candidates had until Tuesday to submit signatures to qualify for the June primary. Candidates running independently can still make the November ballot if they submit the required signature by June 1.