Politics & Other Mistakes: Home is where the votes are

6 mins read
Al Diamon

You know where you live. A house. An apartment. A condo. A cardboard box under a bridge. It may not be much, but it’s someplace, and you know where that is.

Unless you’re Bruce Poliquin. Then it gets complicated. To an outside observer, Poliquin, the former Republican congressman from Maine’s 2nd District, would appear to live on an estate in Georgetown. Big house, lotsa land, loads of amenities. Who wouldn’t be happy calling that home?

Not our Brucie. In fact, he hasn’t been an official resident of his luxurious digs since shortly after he won his first term in 2016. That’s because Georgetown isn’t in the 2nd District. It’s in the 1st.

Inconvenient, although not illegal. U.S. representatives need not live in their districts, so long as they abide in the state from which they’re elected. But there’s an optics problem with representing a mostly poor, rural district like Maine’s 2nd, and living in a mostly prosperous, urban one. So, Poliquin needed a fake address.

He chose his family’s summer camp in Oakland, which was just over the line in the 2nd CD. Yes, he said, it was his full-time residence, even though the only full-time thing about it was its Post Office box. Then, he sold the camp, because his family wasn’t using what was supposed to be their residence all that much, instead preferring to luxuriate at their Georgetown compound. So, the resourceful Brucie rented a room from the new owners, and kept paying rent on that P.O. Box.

Bruce lost his seat in Congress in 2018, but kept his pretend address because he planned to run again. But so did some other members of the GOP, such as Mike Perkins, a state representative who, by coincidence really does live in Oakland. “I’m a Mainer through and through,” he told the Lewiston Sun Journal, “but he’s not one of us,” referring to Poliquin.

Perkins said he wouldn’t get out of the race just to accommodate Poliquin, so Bruce called in some chits from his friends in the GOP who sat on the redistricting commission. They decided to move Oakland out of the 2nd District.

That would have been kinda weird, since it appears as if neither candidate lived in the proper place, but it’s really only a problem for one of them. Perkins, who owns property and really lives in Oakland, would have to move or establish a fake address using a P.O. box, sorta like someone else we know. As for Poliquin, he can depart Oakland with no regrets. And no furniture to move.

Bruce told WVOM radio, that for his latest magical abode, he was “relocating to the Bangor area.

“This makes much more sense to be able to better serve my constituents if the voters want me back, and I expect they will,” he said, perhaps overstating voter enthusiasm for his return. He pointed out that Bangor was a more central location, and noted that the post office there was larger, allowing for bigger boxes, big enough that a diminutive personage of Poliquinian proportions could actually live in one – or maybe two of them joined together.

A little plumbing, some electrical work and you could turn a P.O.-box conversion into a condo that would sell for $400,000 in Portland. This might be a significant source of revenue for the cash-strapped Postal Service.

The bottom line for all this nonsense is that no one should be represented in Congress by somebody who doesn’t dare to live where they say they do. The 2nd District is diverse enough that Poliquin could find a real house there without having to use the same laundromat as mill workers or grocery shop next to smelly stern men off lobster boats. There are even whole privileged enclaves of the district without a homeless person in sight. It’d almost be like living in Georgetown.

And just imagine the savings on P.O. boxes.

As an actual resident of the 2nd District, I invite you to email me (sorry, I don’t have a P.O. box, can’t afford something that could rent for 3 grand in Portland) at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

Correction: The plan to move Oakland to the 1st District fizzled out. It’s still in the 2nd.

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