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Cain’s pragmatism, openness would better serve Maine’s 2nd District in Congress

The Nov. 8 vote in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is a referendum on the performance of Rep. Bruce Poliquin in his first term in Congress. Voters have to decide whether he should be re-elected.

We believe Democrat Emily Cain deserves to replace him.

Poliquin, a Republican, has shown in his first two years that he’ll advocate for some 2nd District interests in much the same way as the Democrat he replaced. He has kept up the fight to require that the Department of Defense issue American-made athletic shoes to military members, and he has gone to bat for Maine papermakers.

We have appreciated Poliquin’s attention to Maine’s opiate addiction epidemic and his advocacy and votes for legislation emphasizing evidence-based addiction treatment. But he failed early on — unlike his fellow Republican in Maine’s congressional delegation, Sen. Susan Collins — to break with the Republican caucus and advocate for emergency funding for the legislation.

Poliquin has been nearly impossible to pin down on a range of issues since he was a candidate in 2014, from how his “pro-life” position on abortion would factor into his votes in Congress to his position on reauthorization of the federal Export-Import Bank. There’s no greater example than his dancing around whether he supports Republican Donald Trump for president. He hasn’t publicly committed to supporting him, but he told a private crowd he would be excited to work with a president Trump.

Poliquin’s constituents deserve to know where he stands, but he literally walked away from questions about it last week and refused to talk about it during a debate Tuesday night.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District deserves a representative who is responsible and responsive to them.

Instead, Poliquin will be a reliable vote for what we consider to be a destructive Republican agenda that threatens to undo the Affordable Care Act, that threatens to transform key social programs into block grants that would put key services at risk while endangering state budgets, and that threatens funding for key reproductive health services for women.

He opposed the formation of a national monument in the 2nd District and held a sham hearing giving voice to some of the fringe perspectives in Congress that want to undo an American tradition of using the federal government to protect valuable lands.

In Congress, Cain would also advocate for veterans and for the protection of manufacturing jobs in the 2nd District, but she wouldn’t vote against equality or vote to gut social programs and long-standing conservation efforts.

Cain would also seek a committee assignment that offers her influence on policy areas that are more relevant to Maine’s 2nd District. Whereas Poliquin serves on the House financial services committee, Cain says she would seek an assignment on the transportation and infrastructure, veterans’ affairs or agriculture panels.

During her 10 years in the Maine Legislature, Cain set herself apart as a pragmatic lawmaker who worked productively with — and earned the respect of — lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. She helped, for example, to negotiate passage of the first budget in Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s tenure. It containedsignificant tax cuts, which many in her party opposed, but it also increased funding for education and preserved MaineCare for low-income parents.

As a lawmaker, Cain played a leading role in encouraging state lawmakers to make significant investments in research and development to spur economic development. She was a strong proponent for evaluating the effectiveness of the state’s myriad business tax breaks and credits.

Cain’s inclusive, pragmatic and forthcoming approach to governing would be a welcome addition to an institution that increasingly lacks it. Most important, such an approach would better serve the residents of Maine’s 2nd District.

 

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