No clear winner emerging in tough Maine 2nd District race

Published 11-07-2018

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Candidates were locked a hotly contested race with major implications for control of the U.S. House in Maine, which was using ranked-choice voting for the first time in congressional races.

Two-term Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin was looking to defend his seat against Democratic challenger Jared Golden in the closely watched 2nd Congressional District race.

Also on the ranked-choice ballot were re-election bids by Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and independent Sen. Angus King. The incumbents were ahead in early returns in those races.

In the 2nd District, the race featured saturation television ad campaigns and attacks in which Poliquin and Golden called each other liars.

The election featured ranked-choice voting , which was approved by voters in 2016 and used in primaries for the first time in June. The system lets voters rank candidates on the ballot with provisions for the candidate eliminations and additional tabulations. It comes into play only if no one wins a majority of first-place votes.

Golden, a state representative and Marine Corps veteran, highlighted his military service while accusing Poliquin of trying to take away Mainers' access to affordable health care, pledging to create jobs and promising to protect gun rights.

Poliquin, elected in 2014, touted the state's low unemployment rate and his efforts to cut taxes and press for fair trade deals.

He called Golden "a young radical with a socialist agenda" in an attempt to portray him as too far left for the district, which handed an electoral vote to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar were also part of the race.

Financial disclosure reports showed that Golden raised five times more money than Poliquin in the quarter that ended three weeks before the election. It was the most expensive congressional race in the history of the state.

Golden said the fundraising was evidence that "voters are ready for real change, an

Poliquin, elected in 2014, touted the state's low unemployment rate and his efforts to cut taxes and press for fair trade deals.

He called Golden "a young radical with a socialist agenda" in an attempt to portray him as too far left for the district, which handed an electoral vote to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar were also part of the race.

Financial disclosure reports showed that Golden raised five times more money than Poliquin in the quarter that ended three weeks before the election. It was the most expensive congressional race in the history of the state.

Golden said the fundraising was evidence that "voters are ready for real change, and I'm humbled to have the support of so many Mainers." Poliquin, who maintained a cash-on-hand advantage, insisted that he was "in a strong position in the final weeks of the campaign."

No challenger has defeated an incumbent in the district in more than 100 years.

Approved by voters in 2016, the system was being used for the first time in history in U.S. House and Senate races in Maine.

Voter Tory Dibbins, 53, a Democrat and physical therapist from Portland, said that if Democrats win big in Maine and beyond, then they have to show that they're willing to compromise.

"If you're going to talk about 'let's end the divisiveness and be inclusive,' then you have to try to get people to be more bipartisan. You can't keep going in the path we're on," she said.

In the 1st District, Pingree was being challenged by independent state Rep. Marty Grohman and Republican Mark Holbrook.

Grohman, of Biddeford, left the Democratic party in 2017 after expressing fru

Financial disclosure reports showed that Golden raised five times more money than Poliquin in the quarter that ended three weeks before the election. It was the most expensive congressional race in the history of the state.

Golden said the fundraising was evidence that "voters are ready for real change, and I'm humbled to have the support of so many Mainers." Poliquin, who maintained a cash-on-hand advantage, insisted that he was "in a strong position in the final weeks of the campaign."

No challenger has defeated an incumbent in the district in more than 100 years.

Approved by voters in 2016, the system was being used for the first time in history in U.S. House and Senate races in Maine.

Voter Tory Dibbins, 53, a Democrat and physical therapist from Portland, said that if Democrats win big in Maine and beyond, then they have to show that they're willing to compromise.

"If you're going to talk about 'let's end the divisiveness and be inclusive,' then you have to try to get people to be more bipartisan. You can't keep going in the path we're on," she said.

In the 1st District, Pingree was being challenged by independent state Rep. Marty Grohman and Republican Mark Holbrook.

Grohman, of Biddeford, left the Democratic party in 2017 after expressing frustration with partisanship in government. He had hoped to take advantage of ranked-choice voting system to unseat Pingree, but conceded before 11 p.m.

Pingree declared herself the winner, but Holbrook declined to concede at 11 p.m. The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

In the Senate race, King was being challenged by opponents on his ideological right and left.

King, a popular former Maine governor, faced Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey and Democratic activist Zak Ringelstein. King caucuses with the Democrats and was first elected to the Senate in 2012.

During the race, Ringelstein charged that the Democratic establishment abandoned him despite his winning the nomination. He conceded on election night.

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Associated Press writer David Sharp contributed.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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