Three Republican candidates square off for Maine's 2nd Congressional District

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PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - The Republican nominees for Maine's Second Congressional District squared off on Tuesday night on everything from the pandemic to protests.

Working with our media partners WMTW in Portland, TV5 aired a debate featuring the candidates.

Adrienne Bennett, Eric Brakey, and Dale Crafts all hope to be the one to challenge incumbent Democrat Jared Golden in November.

All three candidates began in agreement over the biggest issue facing Maine and the United States - the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.

"Many people live paycheck to paycheck this is totally unreasonable. When we look at our economy we got to open our economy first," Eric Brakey said.

"We need to keep the business open. People can decide whether they want to come in the business whether they have rest and we really need to protect our people but we've got to have the balance of keeping the economy going." Dale Crafts said.

"I don't buy the new normal. Our president doesn't either. We are going to get our economy back on track and he's gonna help us do that." Adrienne Bennett said.

But they differed on how the federal government is responding to this health crisis.

Bennett added, "Eric Brakey said he wouldn't vote for that first Cares Act and that helped thousands of Mainers. Maine families, their businesses, and their livelihoods. That's when they needed it the most."

"When we think that more and more Washington spending is the answer. That's not the answer. The answer is to let people keep more of their own money. We can fix our problems better than the Washington politicians."

"Every single Republican and Democrat voted for that spending package," Crafts added.

Brakey responded, "Not true."

"In the Senate. That's why they sat down and looked at the seriousness of this country," Crafts said.

Over the past month, protests have popped up all across the country in response to the death of George Floyd. These candidates agree there should some sort of police reform.

"I wouldn't want to be in that situation when people are trying to take my life away and trying to make quick decisions. So there's gonna be a lot of reform and training, so they do a better job when they get in the situations," Crafts said.

"We need to have an open and honest conversation Without all of this destruction of property and nonsense that's going on across our country dividing us even more," Bennett said.

"Maine Police officer should be a model and an example for the rest of America. We got great officers. We got a great culture for our constitutional rights and this is where I think the conversation should start," Brakey said.

The Second Amendment was also a topic of discussion.

"There isn't anyone stronger than the Second Amendment but Maine."

"Dale, you were there in 2011 when Republicans controlled everything and you didn't get the job done on constitutional carry. I got the job done when Democrats were in control of the House," Brakey said.

Crafts said, " I was a co-sponsor of that bill and you know what there were a lot of cosponsors. You weren't the only one. Stop taking credit for everything Eric because it's not true."

"We got career politicians who are fighting over who did what when where and why. We need people in Congress who are fighting for every day Mainers, average Mainers," Bennett said.

The primary election is July 14.