- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) - Some folks work so hard that people say they live in their offices.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin lives in his office in a literal sense, going so far as to install a bed. The Republican congressman prefers the efficiency of sleeping in a Murphy bed and showering in the House gym.

“He doesn’t like to waste time,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett.

Poliquin beat Democrat Emily Cain this year to win a second term by a comfortable margin after the costliest U.S. House race in Maine history.

Now it’s back to Washington for the congressman, who made a name for himself as a freshman as a bundle of energy and earnestness. His frenetic pace earned him the nickname “the Energizer Bunny.”

His colleagues enjoy ribbing him. Republican Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer does a mean Poliquin imitation, waving his arms and speaking excitedly with a faux Maine accent, exclaiming, “Guys, guys!”

“This is one of the most well-liked representatives in the U.S. Congress,” said Emmer, who sits next to Poliquin on the House Financial Services Committee.

The Harvard-educated businessman has come a long way since 2010 when he finished sixth out of seven candidates in the gubernatorial primary won by Paul LePage, mayor of Waterville, where Poliquin is from. As governor, LePage selected Poliquin to serve as treasurer, a low-key post that Poliquin transformed into a high-profile forum to promote fiscal responsibility.

Poliquin endured controversies over whether he violated the state constitution through his real estate work while serving as treasurer and for enrolling coastal property in the Maine Tree Growth program when deed restrictions prohibited logging.

To run in the 2nd District, he changed his residency from a $3.4 million home in Georgetown to a more modest home in Oakland.

His past Wall Street work and personal wealth made it easy for Democrats to attack him for being out of touch with working-class Mainers.

But Poliquin showed he can give as good as he gets during two hard-fought campaigns.

“He loves to engage with just about anyone. He’s friendly. He’s articulate. He’s bright. That’s probably what makes him a good politician,” said Oliver Grace, a l friend.

Poliquin, who declined to be interviewed for this story, supports securing the country’s border and doing more to fight the heroin epidemic. He criticized the European Union’s attempt to ban Maine lobsters.

In Washington, he continued his predecessors’ work on veterans’ issues and fought the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He pressed the Pentagon to require recruits to wear U.S.-made sneakers and showed support by wearing New Balances on the House floor.

Jeff McCabe, the Democratic leader in the Maine House, criticized Poliquin for being noncommittal on issues, noting Poliquin declined to say if he supported Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

“People will have him under a microscope and will be watching him more than ever in this session,” McCabe said.

In his first term, Poliquin succeeded in getting his first bill signed into law. The law makes it easier for agencies to enforce child support payments. Poliquin, himself, became the single parent of a 16-month-old son when his wife drowned in Puerto Rico while on vacation in 1992.

Emmer said Poliquin showed his character after the tragedy by the way he’s carried on with his life.

“You can choose to be dark and doom and be the victim, or you can be Bruce Poliquin, where every day is a new opportunity,” he said.

Poliquin’s re-election was important because he cleared a hurdle when freshmen are considered most vulnerable, but he has no plans to get an apartment.

He plans to continue living in his office.

“Since the election, he hasn’t skipped a beat. If anything, the man is more energized than ever and ready to get back to work,” said his spokesman, Brendan Conley.

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Follow David Sharp on Twitter at https://twitter.com/David_Sharp_AP. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-sharp.


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