Bangor Republican announces he will run against Bruce Poliquin

·3 min read

Dec. 1—Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has yet another contender for the Republican Party's backing in Maine's 2nd District congressional race.

Banker Garret Swazey of Bangor announced this week that he is also seeking the GOP's endorsement in next year's primary, becoming the fifth Republican to enter the contest to try to unseat two-term Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston.

"We need an everyday Mainer, which is not Bruce Poliquin, of course," the 38-year-old Swazey said Wednesday.

Poliquin, 68, has the support of the party machinery in Washington, but it is becoming clear that he's nowhere near as solid in the backing of the GOP's rank-and-file in the sprawling, rural district he represented from 2014-18, when Golden knocked him out of office.

"I don't think the Maine people really like Bruce, if I can be honest," Swazey said. "Bruce Poliquin is not Maine."

Beside, he said, Congress needs "young blood" like him to deal with subjects such as technology and cryptocurrency, issues that leave older lawmakers "out of their element" or worse.

Also taking aim for Republican votes in the June 14 primary are state Rep. Mike Perkins of Oakland, Caratunk leader Liz Caruso and Sean Joyce of Newburgh.

Swazey said he views it as largely a three-way race among him; Perkins, "who seems like a good Republican"; and Poliquin, whose had a long career in finance and investment.

Golden has one declared opponent within his own party, Michael Sutton of Bangor, but liberal Democrats are chatting openly about the possibility that others might jump in, too.

There is one independent in contention as well, Jordan Borrowman of Lewiston.

Despite the growing number of GOP opponents to his reelection, Golden's bid to follow a centrist agenda has made some inroads, as a Tuesday tweet from former state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn made clear.

Brakey, a Republican who lost a primary bid to challenge Golden two years ago, told the Democratic incumbent that "you've charted your own course and demonstrated over two terms that it isn't just a show. I still find myself disagreeing often, but appreciate you finding the third way."

Swazey said he plans to campaign full-time soon, "in every corner of the district, even if I need take my snowmobile" to get to some spots. He said he'll need to raise some money but has no plan to match Poliquin's campaign treasury, which tallied nearly $870,000 cash on hand at the end of September.

Among the issues he plans to focus on are the protection of constitutional rights, taxes and the right to bear arms.

Swazey said "a regular Mainer" can "balance a lower- or middle-class Maine budget just the same as a billion-dollar budget" and insisted that "you can't fix a spending problem by taxing."

Swazey grew up in Bucksport, a small town on the Penobscot River. His father and grandfather served as state representatives from the town.

He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2018 and is working, mostly online, on a master's in business administration from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.

Before that, he worked in a variety of jobs from 2001 until 2014, including a long stint as a credit analyst for Bank of America.

He has had his own accounting firm since 2017 and has also worked for a home lending firm since 2019.

Swazey is divorced and has a 14-year-old son. He has "coached numerous youth basketball, baseball and soccer teams for the last decade in the greater Bangor area."

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