Eric Brakey seeks to move from state Senate to U.S. Senate

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Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, intends to run against Sen. Angus King in the 2018 U.S. Senate race.

More coverage: Eric Brakey accepts he is underdog in bid to unseat Angus King

Give this to Eric Brakey: the 28-year-old state senator aims high.

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A week after declaring he planned to investigate a possible U.S. Senate run, the Auburn Republican announced his intention to try to snag the seat held since 2012 by independent Angus King.

“We need a leader, not a self-styled king,” as a Brakey campaign video released this week put it.

Brakey is the first candidate to announce an intention to tackle King, who is seeking a second term in 2018. But it’s likely that others will jump into the race, including perhaps Gov. Paul LePage, who has talked about the possibility.

Kimberly Sampson, the Democrat who Brakey defeated in November to win a second term, said she is not surprised at his intention to seek higher office.

“Brakey parachuted in from Ohio with political ambitions,” she said. “He knew it would be easier to run for office in rural Maine versus Ohio. He could be a big fish in a small pond.”

Brakey is an unconventional politician with strong libertarian leanings that sometimes causes him to pursue an agenda at odds with the GOP mainstream.

It’s led him to a surprisingly productive record during his short tenure in the State House, pushing through everything from major welfare reform to concealed carry of firearms by those over 21 without the necessity of securing a permit.

He’s also taken on tax breaks for big business and supported the legalization of marijuana, all part of his effort to provide more “liberty for the little guy,” as his new video said.

Brakey is “running for Senate to fight for the little guy, to bust up the failed dynasties in power, disrupt the status quo and usher in a new era for Maine,” the nearly 3-minute video declared.

Brakey said last week that King, former governor, “has really wasted his time in Washington, D.C.” and aligned himself almost totally with the Democrats. “It’s hard to point to a single thing that Angus King has accomplished,” Brakey said.

Brakey has been taking jabs at King on social media for awhile. Typical is a Facebook comment recently taking issue with King’s support for including the tiny nation of Montenegro in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Will Angus King and the rest of Washington commit our young men and women off to war in a foreign nation without the courage to even vote on the issue?” Brakey asked.

King hasn’t commented this week, but his spokesman took issue with Brakey a week ago.

“Angus goes to bat for hardworking Maine people every day in the Senate and he’s focused on fighting to grow our economy, revitalize our rural communities and support the people of the state he loves,” Scott Ogden said.

Brakey, who served as GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul’s state director for Maine in 2012, won a state Senate seat in 2014 at age 26. He easily won reelection last year.

If Brakey succeeds in winning the seat, he would take office at the age of 30, just four months past the constitutional minimum age. That would make him Maine’s youngest-ever senator and among the youngest ever to serve.

The youngest, John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, took office at the age of 28 in 1818 because no one thought about the age requirement.

Even so, there are a handful of other senators over the years who took their oaths of office on their 30th birthday or soon after, among them Joe Biden of Delaware, who logged a long career in the Senate before serving as vice president.

Brakey, who isn’t married, works as a financial records manager at Brakey Energy. He is an Ohio native who earned his degree from Ohio University. His family has deep Maine roots.

He serves as the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee in Augusta.

Sampson pointed out that Brakey is also an actor who “needs to see his name in lights. However, the smoke and mirror show will only go so far.”

Brakey’s career as an actor brought him attention during his first state Senate run after a Vita CoCo Coconut Water commercial appeared that featured him dancing around in a bathing suit. It appeared in 2013 on Inside Edition and other national outlets.

“That’s my background, and I’m still doing a lot of acting,” Brakey said at the time. “I’m an actor, and when I was working professionally in New York City this was a real fun, wonderful opportunity doing a commercial for a national brand.”

This story will be updated.

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