Paul LePage answers a question on the high cost of Maine energy Friday during a campaign event at the Franco Center in Lewiston. Moderator Annalee Rosenblatt and Bruce Poliquin sit next to LePage. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — During an hourlong campaign stop in Lewiston Friday, two familiar Republican candidates fielded questions from handpicked seniors that provided plenty of opportunity to highlight a GOP agenda for lower spending, more secure borders and increased use of oil and gas.

“We need to make a change,” said former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who is seeking to regain the 2nd Congressional District seat he lost in 2018 to Democrat Jared Golden.

Democrats say they are lending a hand to people trying to cope with an iffy economy and worldwide inflation. But, they say the agenda promoted by Republicans would hurt rather than help ordinary people.

After listening to Poliquin and former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who is trying to unseat his successor, Democrat Janet Mills, the chair of Republican Town Committee in Poland said the party is on track for success at the polls on Nov. 8.

“We just have this feeling that people are sick and tired of what’s going on,” said Bradley Plante, the GOP town chair. He predicted “a clean sweep” by Republicans in Poland.

LePage told about three dozen seniors at the Franco Center that Republicans will bring down inflation and boost the economy so that Mainers can “afford the heat, the food, the medication that we need.”


Bruce Poliquin, front, left, and Paul LePage chat Friday prior to the start of their campaign event at the Franco Center in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Pointing to Mills’ aid to cities, towns and school, as well as the $850 checks sent by the state to most Mainers this year, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said in a prepared statement that Mills is the “one candidate in this race who is helping Maine people with higher costs.”

Poliquin said both he and LePage are semi-retired business professionals from central Maine.

“We know how to deal with real-world economy,” Poliquin said.

While the pair stuck mostly to talking points heard on the campaign trail this year, LePage mentioned something new: that he’s not ready to give up on the future of the Androscoggin paper mill in Jay that plans to close next year.

He said he phoned the company recently “and there is a lot we can do” to try to save the mill and its jobs.

When he returns to the Blaine House after the election, LePage said, “We’re going to work with them to try to find a buyer.”


In the broader picture, the former governor said he wants to give more attention to fishing, forestry and farming, suggesting that “instead of putting solar panels on a farm, we grow crops.”

To protect the lobster industry, LePage said would sue “Joe Biden or whoever’s running the federal government” while Poliquin said he would try to defund the bureaucratic office “responsible for these crazy regulations” aimed at protecting the endangered right whales in the Gulf of Maine.

Moderator Annalee Rosenblatt sits in between Paul LePage, left, and Bruce Poliquin during a question-and-answer period Friday at the Franco Center in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Poliquin said the country needs to do more to crack down on lethal, illegal drugs by beefing up border security.

He also said that schools need to do more to teach subjects like music and math “and not confusing 5-year-olds on whether or not they’re a boy or a girl.”

Poliquin was referencing recent controversy over transgender and gender education in schools that has sparked a national debate. There is little evidence that schools are doing anything that would cause kindergarten students to be confused about their gender.

LePage said the campaign this year has been “the most vile” he’s seen because of “loathsome stuff” that’s been aired in television commercials attacking him unfairly.

“Don’t believe what you hear on TV,” Poliquin advised voters.

Poliquin said that his elderly father, who died in March, once asked him how he could stomach the terrible advertisements.

“I don’t watch this stuff,” Poliquin told him. “They just make stuff up and put it up there.”

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