Two independent candidates have secured spots on the Nov. 6 general election ballot to face Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term Republican.
Portland lawyer Tiffany Bond and Southwest Harbor educator Will Hoar filed the required signatures with the Secretary of State’s Office late Friday to claim lines on the 2nd District congressional ballot.
Three Democrats are competing in a June 12 primary to determine who will also take on Poliquin in the general election. Those vying for the slot are Jared Golden, Lucas St. Clair and Craig Olson.
Hoar said on his website that he is running as an unaffiliated candidate “because he sees it as the only way to honestly represent the people of Maine,” given that “both parties have bloated into ideological behemoths who choose to spend their time battling for dominance.”
Hoar said party loyalty has taken precedence “over the very real problems facing constituents each and every day.”
“The gridlock of wills and unbendable egos is suffocating the democratic ideals upon which this country was built,” Hoar said.
Bond said Monday she “really enjoyed the past few weeks talking to folks all over this district” to collect enough signatures to reach the ballot.
She said she has personally collected 1,663 signatures of the more than 2,000 she submitted. She rounded up signatures from people in 219 towns, she said, where “I learned that we have so much more in common than we have different.”
“Everyone I spoke with wants a safe place with fair rules and a chance to thrive,” Bond said.
“We really need someone who has firsthand experience and knows how laws help or hurt people,” she said. “I hope having someone with an in-the-trenches background in the race encourages each of the candidates to put forward our very best for Maine.
“May we all focus on policy and what benefits we each bring, and lead the way forward for the country away from toxic politics. Dirigo.”
Poliquin won re-election by a wide margin two years ago. Democrats say they plan to hammer him on what they perceive as his unpopular 2017 vote to abolish the Affordable Care Act in a district that elected Democrats to the U.S. House for two decades before Poliquin captured the seat in 2014.
But it has been a century since any 2nd District incumbent lost a re-election bid, so Republicans, while preparing for a costly fight, say they are not especially worried.
No independent has ever won the seat, but Maine is perhaps the most supportive state in the union for candidates who are not attached to either of the major parties. Voters in the Pine Tree State have elected two independent governors in the past half-century, and one of Maine’s two U.S. senators, Angus King, is an independent.
Neither Hoar nor Bond is likely to raise more than a pittance in campaign funds, while Poliquin has already brought in more than $2 million. The two parties and outside groups supporting one or the other are ready to spend millions more.
Bond said she is asking supporters to donate their money to charity or to buy things from Maine merchants instead of giving to her campaign.
“Maine deserves a candidate who is not for sale,” she said when she initially entered the race late in 2017.
An environmentalist, Hoar called for term limits, a time limit for campaigns, greater civility in Washington, more education funding for low-income districts, cheaper health care and a simpler tax code.
Members of the House serve two-year terms. They are paid $174,000 annually.
The 2nd District covers interior and northern Maine, including Lewiston, Auburn and Bangor. It is the largest district east of the Mississippi River, and one of the most rural.
Independent U.S. House candidate Will Hoar (submitted photo)
Independent U.S. House candidate Tiffany Bond (Submitted photo)