A super PAC devoted to supporting President Donald Trump plans to spend $1 million to help elect U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term Republican in Maine’s 2nd District.
America First Action announced this week it plans to pour $10 million into midterm elections across the country where GOP candidates may have trouble in swing districts.
Poliquin, who is facing a challenge from Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston, would be the beneficiary of the planned spending in Maine despite his 2016 refusal to endorse Trump. He is New England’s only Republican member in the U.S. House.
Groups on both sides are targeting the hardscrabble Maine district in a bid to sway voters in a race that experts say is either a toss-up or perhaps leaning a bit toward Poliquin. Polls show a close contest.
Jon Breed, Golden’s campaign manager, said the super PAC is trying to rescue a troubled Poliquin.
“Poliquin and his out-of-state supporters know Bruce has failed the test when it comes to representing the people of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. No amount of spending can save him from his dismal record,” said Bobby Reynolds, Golden’s communications director.
For America First Action, the $10 million national allocation “is a critical first step and a sizable investment in helping Republicans hold the House and grow the Senate, and many of these races are in states that will be important to our efforts in 2020,” its president, Brian Walsh, said in a prepared statement.
He said it intends to invest in much the same way as it did during special U.S. House elections in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where Republicans struggled to hold on to seats in traditionally safe GOP areas.
“We will use all the tactics we feel are necessary — television, radio, and digital ads, and direct mail — to help our candidates win in these competitive races,” Walsh said.
Two years ago, when Poliquin defeated Democrat Emily Cain, more than $15 million was spent on the race, most of it on television advertisements — the vast majority of them critical of one candidate or the other, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.
This year, millions of dollars are expected to be spent again by outside groups. Poliquin has raised $3.2 million so far for his race while Golden has hauled in $1.2 million, though he spent a lot of it during the Democratic primary in the spring.
Trump has plans to travel to many of the districts targeted by the super PAC, which may be an indication that he might come to Maine before the Nov. 6 election.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Brakey of Auburn, who hopes to unseat independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in this year’s race, is trying to rally party loyalists to ask Trump to come.
In his open letter to the president, Brakey said, “Many Maine people love you and would be thrilled to roll out the red carpet and welcome you back to our state.”
“Please consider finding time in your busy schedule to visit us,” Brakey said. “Maine is tremendously beautiful in September and October, and we would throw a rally no one would ever forget.”
The Democratic contender for U.S. Senate, Zak Ringlestein, is less welcoming. He led a rally in Portland on Friday calling for Trump’s impeachment.
America First Action is a vehement defender of Trump and his policies.
“We give Donald J. Trump’s presidency an A+ and the Fake News media’s coverage an F-,” it recently posted on its Facebook page.
America First Action’s vice chairwoman is Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former prosecutor who is dating Donald Trump Jr. The president’s son said on Twitter this week that “few people have supported DJT from the beginning” like she has.
Screenshot of America First Action’s website.