The Republican Liberty Caucus has unanimously endorsed former Maine State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s bid to become the next congressman from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, according to a statement released Monday.
“It is time that the career professional politicians more interested in being Washington insiders step aside for new voices who will represent the people who want smaller government, lower taxes and less interference from government in the conduct of their family affairs and their personal lives,” RLC National Chair Matt Nye said in a prepared statement.
“Our Board members from all parts of the nation found Bruce Poliquin to be a refreshing change from the political status quo,” said Nye.
Poliquin, who has previously run for governor and U.S. Senate, is running for the GOP nomination against former state Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry, who is making his third attempt to win election in Maine’s 2nd C.D. Both are vying to replace out-going U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, a Democrat who recently vacated the seat to run for governor.
The endorsement could mean significant grassroots support from the hundreds of activists affiliated with RLC’s Maine chapter. When the state Legislature is in session, RLC activists regularly turnout to testify on liberty issues, and, during campaign season, activists help endorsed candidates with literature drops and canvassing. The endorsement also signals to liberty-minded voters that Poliquin’s views may most closely align with their own.
The RLC began in the mid-1980s as a group of libertarians seeking to support pro-freedom candidates by exercising influence within the GOP rather than as a third party. The caucus formally organized in 1991 when it held its first national convention. For more than two decades, RLC has influenced the direction of the broader Republican Party by supporting libertarian-leaning candidates in GOP primaries at the state and federal level.
The RLC endorsement follows a lengthy evaluation process which includes an investigation into the candidate’s political history and an evaluation of the candidate’s issue positions. According to Nye, RLC considers a candidate after a local state chapter submits a recommendation. The national “Endorsement Committee” then reviews a candidate’s responses to a series of questions related to the caucus’ goals and mission.
According to the caucus’ Website, RLC-backed candidates must sign “The Liberty Compact” which reads: “I pledge to the citizens of this State, and to the American people, that as their elected representative I will work to: restore liberty, not restrict it; shrink government, not expand it; reduce taxes, not raise them; abolish programs, not create them; promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives; and observe the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not ignore them.”
Previous signers of The Liberty Compact include U.S. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as well as former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who now heads the conservation Heritage Foundation. The group also endorsed Republican Gov. Paul LePage in the 2010 primary.
Vic Berardelli, chairman of the Maine RLC, said the vote to endorse in the 2nd C.D. race was overwhelmingly in favor of Poliquin.
“Our members seemed to feel that Bruce was the candidate who was closer to their values,” said Berardelli.
“There are some members who feel that Kevin, because of his connection to Olympia Snowe, is not they kind of candidate they can support,” he said.
“We are the libertarian wing of the Maine Republican Party,” he said.
Republican primary voters will head to the polls on June 10.