After two close but unsuccessful races against State Senate President Michael Thibodeau in 2014 and 2016, Monroe construction business owner Jonathan Fulford is setting his sights on Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s congressional seat for 2018.

Fulford has not officially declared his candidacy but said said by phone Tuesday that he is “in exploratory mode right now.”

Despite the potential gains he could make in a third run for the Waldo County state senate seat against a different opponent now that Thibodeau has reached his term limit, Fulford said many conversations led him to consider the national race instead for 2018.

“I really like rural Maine,” he said. “And having 80 percent of Maine and the most rural parts of Maine in the second district is exciting … These are my people and I like to think about issues facing them.”

He listed jobs, the economy, climate change, disparity of wealth and power, care of veterans and military spending among the issues he would like to be able to address at the national level.

The biggest challenges to such a bid, he said, would be his relative obscurity outside Waldo County, and the logistical challenges to his preferred method of direct campaigning.

“There are 660,000 people in Congressional District 2 versus (39,000) in Waldo County,” he said. “It’s a totally different scale, so you can't go door-to-door; it would have to be done differently.”

But he said the traditional method of “raising a boatload of money and blowing it all on TV ads,” is also not appealing to him. In fact he sees representatives’ focus on paid media — rather than on real, direct communication with voters — as a major problem in government.

Fulford said he will also have to consider whether he can take the time away from his business to campaign.

“That’s part of the equation as to why I’m just exploring it at this point,” he said, “to make sure it makes sense on a bunch of different fronts.”