U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks to a reporter at his home, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Lewiston, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District reinforced his support for the Inflation Reduction Act during a Wednesday news conference alongside a prominent swing-voting senator, arguing the bill would help working Mainers.

The Democratic congressman has bucked the biggest parts of President Joe Biden’s spending agenda, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and the “Build Back Better” plan last year. He voted with his party last month to pass the climate, tax and health care package, citing deficit reduction, encouraging energy production and other items.

It could have been a risky political play. Golden split his district in 2020 with former President Donald Trump and he is now facing former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, in a toss-up rematch of their race from four years ago that could help decide control of the chamber. Portland lawyer Tiffany Bond, an independent, is also on the ballot again.

At a virtual news conference on Wednesday alongside West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who was an architect of the compromise legislation with Biden after torpedoing the Build Back Better plan, Golden argued the bill’s provisions will appeal to his voters.

The congressman said he called the press conference after attack ads against the bill. One of those ads, paid for by a group tied to House Republican leaders, implied that Golden had flip-flopped on the vote and wrongly said the measure would double the IRS workforce. The same group began running a new ad on the issue this week.

“There’s a lot of mistruths by a lot of super PACs and dark money groups with millions of dollars and a real political agenda,” Golden said.

That spending has come in support of Poliquin, whom Golden has not addressed much on the campaign trail so far. He criticized him on Wednesday, saying Poliquin voted for “ballooning our deficit” despite talking a lot about fiscal conservatism.

It was an implicit reference to the former congressman’s support for a 2018 tax-cut package. The same year, he voted for a balanced budget amendment that ultimately failed because it failed to reach the two-thirds threshold necessary for a constitutional amendment.

Poliquin spokesperson Roy Mathews ripped the legislation in response, using Golden’s vote to tie him to the president, who lost the 2nd District by more than 7 points in 2020.

“This is another attempt by Jared Golden to promote himself as a moderate while supporting Biden’s extreme agenda that is devastating to the people of Maine,” Mathews said.

Bond said she hadn’t had the chance to read the Inflation Reduction Act yet but the summary of the bill put out by the White House sounded good. She said neither Golden nor Poliquin looked at spending through a “lens of return on investment.”

The measure comes with more than $300 billion in spending on energy and climate change initiatives, from making electric cars more affordable to tax credits making homes more energy efficient, although an often-cited analysis says it will make virtually no dent in inflation. Health care provisions include allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs.

It is paid for by new taxes on the largest corporations and those making $400,000 or more annually. Republicans have cited reports finding indirect tax hikes on those making less and a of the U.S. Treasury ​​ report to argue the bill will add 87,000 new IRS employees over a ten year span. But more than half of IRS employees working in enforcement are currently eligible to retire, with around 50,000 expected to do so over the next five years.

Manchin’s appearance represented an endorsement of Golden by the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. Maine’s two-term congressman is in that same position in the House, according to VoteView, although Poliquin has noted he votes overwhelmingly with his party.

Manchin, who has crossed party lines to endorse Sen. Susan Collins in the past, said Golden was continuing in a Maine tradition of independent members of Congress. They developed a working relationship during negotiations last year on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“You don’t send people like Jared Golden back to Washington, we’re really going to have a problem,” Manchin said. “Because we need the balance.”