The most prominent race in Tuesday’s primary election was in the bid to secure the GOP nomination for Maine CD2 – the seat Mike Michaud is vacating in his run for Governor.
How did Bruce Poliquin pull off such a decisive 12 point victory in a race where the presumed favorite of party faithful was Kevin Raye?
Well, there was one key to victory that no one else is really talking about.
His campaign identified a reliable base of voters, evangelical Christians, and hammered ONE point home with them: that the only Pro-Life candidate on the Republican side was Bruce Poliquin. I wrote about this topic in my last post.
In fairness to Raye, he is on record as against so-called “late-term abortions” saying in this 2012 questionnaire that he would vote to ban all “post-viability abortions” except those necessary to save the mother’s life or prevent “serious harm” to her health.
1) Attend Church. 2) Shake Hands. 3) Repeat.
So how was it done? Well, in Bangor alone, Bruce and staff visited the “big three” of evangelical churches — Bangor Baptist, Calvary Chapel, and The Rock Church — more than once. [Full disclosure: I attend and serve at The Rock Church]
These churches alone have many hundreds of voting age adults that attend their services each week — and those are just churches in Greater Bangor. This strategy was repeated in key churches across the 2nd district, and I believe was the driving force in both the margin of Bruce’s victory as well as the unexpected higher turnout among Republicans.
In what I observed at my church no one was told how to vote, but Bruce was recognized when he visited, church-goers were encouraged to “vote their values”, Bruce’s pro-life position was mentioned, and he shook hands and greeted people after services. Campaign volunteers also returned this past Sunday and a candidate comparison paper was distributed as people exited.
A point of clarification
A rather relevant aside to this discussion is concerning a quote attributed to Bruce in an article in today’s BDN from his primary night party. When asked by a reporter of his pro-life views in connection with his support from local pastors, Bruce is reported to have said being pro-life is his personal belief but that he doesn’t consider it part of his politics.
However, when I contacted the campaign and asked them to explain that statement, they said he was misquoted and have asked the BDN to correct the story. They explained his reponse is always the same, and that is:
“[Being pro-life] is a deeply held personal conviction that isn’t political”
But this election won’t be decided on abortion
I don’t hide the fact that I support Bruce, and of course I share his pro-life values. But first and foremost Bruce has always seemed like more of a fiscal hawk than a social issues guy, and that’s what originally attracted me to him as a candidate.
His focus will be fiscal reform — period.
Pro-life voters, at the very least, do want a candidate who is willing to make abortion less of the status quo with reforms such as: parental notification when teens are seeking an abortion, more education of the risks of the procedure, and of course supporting measures that end public funding to the organizations that administer this life-ending service. But no one I speak to expects Roe vs. Wade to be overturned anytime soon, and definitely not by one man.
So as we move into the general election season I expect Bruce and his team to focus on a slew of fiscal issues facing our country including job creation, tax and social security reform, and getting the national debt under control.