Jason Levesque, an Auburn businessman running to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, four-term Democrat from Maine's 2nd District, says he identifies with citizens rallying in the Tea Party movement, but wouldn't consider himself a Tea Partier.
The Republican candidate, a political newcomer, attended the most recent Tea Party protest, which was held in Augusta on April 15, tax day.
“I associate with the people that are in attendance. It's an extreme cross-section of society; people who have never been active before, political newcomers, people that are actually concerned,” he said in an interview following the event. “They want to do something. There's an energy there, they want to be involved in the process. I identify with that, because that's my story as well.”
When asked if he identified with the Tea Party as it exists as a national movement, he said, “Nah, I... I'm not evading it, I've put a lot of thought in it to be honest with you.”
“I mean, real honestly, I'm associated with the people of Maine,” he said, when asked if he wanted his congressional campaign to be associated with them or not. “There's a lot of them there that share the same beliefs that I share and you know, it's great to meet and talk with these people and listen to them, Tea Party or not.”
The grassroots Tea Party movement consists of mostly local, like-minded citizen groups that are bound nationally more in their common anti-tax and anti-government beliefs than formal financial or organizational structure.
In other states, some candidates running for federal office in Republican primaries have embraced Tea Partiers as their political base. Levesque has no primary opponent, but he's been no stranger to the local events.
In January, he addressed a Tea Party rally in Stillwater, along with Republican gubernatorial candidates Bill Beardsley and Paul LePage. He also attended a Glenn Beck-inspired 9-12 rally in Surry in February and another recent Tea Party event in Trenton.