Republican congressional hopeful Liz Caruso this week challenged her well-known primary opponent, former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, to face off with her in debates that would take place in each of the 11 counties in the 2nd District.

Liz Caruso and Bruce Poliquin Submitted photos

“Now that signatures have been turned in and the primary campaign has begun in earnest, it’s imperative that voters learn as much as they can about both of us,” Caruso said in a Tuesday letter to Poliquin.

“Republicans in this district deserve accessible, transparent and responsive leadership, and that starts by ensuring direct access to their candidates,” said Caruso, who heads the town government in tiny Caratunk, about 60 miles north of Farmington.

With a substantial lead in both name recognition and fundraising heading toward the June 14 primary, Poliquin, who bought a house in Orrington last fall, is unlikely to accept her challenge.

Brent Littlefield, spokesman for Poliquin’s campaign, brushed aside Caruso’s request.

Asked if the former congressman would agree to the debates, he responded that Poliquin “is the only candidate for Congress who has a proven record of consistently supporting the right-to-life, constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, and a balanced budget amendment. That is the reason why hundreds of Maine people have donated to support his campaign from across the 2nd Congressional District.”


Poliquin raised $1.5 million before the last filing deadline while Caruso collected $16,000, which included a $3,000 contribution that she gave, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Caruso cited four donors from Maine who gave a total of $1,350. Poliquin’s fundraising included $436,000 from Maine, with money coming in from hundreds of Mainers.

The winner of the primary will be the GOP’s standard bearer in November’s general election against two-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat who took office by defeating Poliquin in 2018. An independent contender, Tiffany Bond of Portland, is likely to make the ballot as well.

Caruso said in her letter to Poliquin that she is “looking forward to a robust discussion with you of the most important issues of the day, and I appreciate your willingness to serve. We share a common vision of a better Maine and a better America, and I look forward to debating the key differences so voters can make an informed and confident decision in June.”

She said she is already reaching out to local Republican officials in each county to begin the process of finding venues and setting dates.

“In the past, these details were left to party bosses and insiders,” Caruso said. “But now, the grassroots members of the Republican Party demand a more transparent process.”

“The days of hiding behind the maneuverings of political consultants are behind us. Voters expect to hear directly from us,” she said. “We are facing unprecedented challenges as a nation, and Mainers deserve to know where we stand and how we’d act if elected. “

“I hope you will accept this offer, and work with my campaign to iron out the details,” Caruso told Poliquin.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.