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Bruce Poliquin Promises Not to Compromise Core Republican Values after Primary Victory
June 11, 2014 7:50 AM ET   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

The Republican battle between a pragmatist and a partisan ended with a wimper less than three hours after the polls closed when former GOP Senate President Kevin Raye called Bruce Poliquin to concede the 2nd Congressional District race. Poliquin, a former state treasurer and self-anointed "true conservative" in the primary, promised not to compromise on core Republican values while Raye had emphasized his willingness to collaborate on partisan issues.

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Poliquin declares victory

Shortly after 10:40 p.m., Bruce Poliquin walked to the podium at his Bangor headquarters and gave his supporters the message they wanted to hear.

"Merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup," he said.

And Poliquin has a lot to be thankful for. This is his first major nomination to elected office, after failed attempts at his party's nod for governor and the U.S. Senate. His expensive campaign portrayed his opponent Raye as a career politician who's too closely aligned with Democrats. But in victory, Poliquin reached out to the Raye campaign, acknowledging that he would need Raye's help to win the seat in November.

"I would like to say that primary elections, some people don't like, I think they're very healthy for the political process, they make us better as candidates and I want to congratulate Kevin on a hard-fought race and his wife and his mom, and all of his volunteers and all of the staff members," Poliquin said.

Poliquin says it's time for Republicans to take back Maine's 2nd Congressional District and to halt runaway debt and wasteful spending. Raye could not overcome those positions and others, nor could he conceal his disappointment. This is his third attempt at winning a congressional seat. He spoke to his supporters at a Bangor reception center.

"We now have 50 percent of the votes in and it is clear to me that we will not prevail in this primary — it's a disappointment," Raye said. "I'm sad for the many people who had worked so hard to help bring us here. I know from having been through this before, having won and having lost that life goes on. But it is clear that this campaign for Congress will end here tonight."

Raye, who declined to take the "no new taxes" pledge adopted by Poliquin, is also pro-choice. And while abortion was not a front-and-center issue in the campaign, it was clearly a rallying point for many across the 2nd District and certainly among those who gathered at Poliquin reception. Harry Rideout of Hermon is a former state lawmaker from Aroostook County.

"You have a lot of ministers here, very much pro-life," Rideout said. "My wife, Sharon, is very much pro-life so yes, I would say pro-life has quite a bit to do with it right now."

Bob Emrich, former chief of staff for the Senate Republicans and the current board chairman of the Christian Civic League of Maine, says that while many of the league's members may not support all of Poliquin's views, the fact that he is pro-life makes it easy for them to get behind a person who shares one of their fundamental beliefs.

"He's not going to Congress to become a pastor, right, but he's going to go because part of the reason is that he has that core conviction that abortion is wrong and that there needs to be some restriction and so forth but he believes in life and as a result the policies will come and that's what we're looking for," Emrich said.

Poliquin says that being pro-life is part of his beliefs — not his politics.

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