A CMP corridor opponent aims for higher office

November 17, 2021

Bangor Daily News

by Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews
November 16, 2021

What we’re watching today
A member of the anti-Central Maine Power hydropower corridor coalition is taking a shot at higher office. While main CMP critic Tom Saviello is still teasing the idea of taking a shot at governorship, Caratunk select board member Liz Caruso has formally jumped into the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District race in the hopes of taking down U.S. Rep. Jared Golden. Caratunk was one of the first towns to rescind its support of the project, with Caruso penning a letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission in September 2018.

But the corridor does not seem to be taking center stage in Caruso’s initial campaign. Her website cites a range of usual Republican priorities, including stopping large tech companies from censoring people, the 2nd Amendment, religious and medical freedom along with economic growth. A registered Maine guide and small business owner, she looks to be positioning herself as an outsider to Washington, D.C., and highlighting her Maine connections

Any Republican challenger is going to face a tough primary against a former U.S. congressman. There is no avoiding a June confrontation with Bruce Poliquin, who raised $883,000 through the end of September in the runup to a rematch with Golden and remains the strong favorite in a primary. The 2018 race between the two was the most expensive House race in the state’s history at the time, and it is likely we will see a repeat performance in that arena as high-dollar spending campaigns seem to be the norm these days.

Poliquin has already turned away one challenger after Maine state Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, dropped his bid for Congress in deference to his former mentor. Oakland state Rep. Mike Perkins, a Republican, is also still in the running, setting up at least a three-way race to challenge Golden next fall.

Caruso’s candidacy could be the start of a political trend, however. The CMP corridor referendum was the most expensive in state history and among the most divisive topics in the state while inspiring a strong grassroots movement. The utility itself will possibly be the subject of another referendum next fall, this time asking if it should be bought out to create a consumer-owned entity. It is possible other activists will use their experience resisting the corridor as a launching pad into state — or even national — politics.