AUGUSTA — Touting Shawn Moody’s background as a “self-made man,” the Republican National Committee on Tuesday issued a statement of support for the Republican candidate in the race to be Maine’s next governor.
Moody, a Gorham businessman and auto-body entrepreneur who made millions in the auto-recycling business and now heads a chain of 11 auto-body repair shops in southern and central Maine, is locked in a close race with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, the Democratic candidate.
Also in the race are independent candidates Alan Caron, a Freeport economic development consultant and the founder of GrowSmart Maine and Envision Maine, and State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Buckfield.
Mills, of Farmington, released her plan for bolstering the state’s economy on Tuesday, triggering a round of responses from Moody supporters, including the RNC.
Ellie Hockenbury, regional communications director for the RNC based in Washington, D.C., pointed to a recent change in a forecast on the race from Governing magazine, which shifted its forecast from “leans Democratic” to “Tossup” for the race. Hockenbury, in a prepared statement, also pointed to a story in the Portland Press Herald, showing a Democratic PAC had already spent over $1 million on the race in Maine working to bolster Mills and attack Moody.
“It’s understandable that the Democrats would be concerned here,” Hockenbury said. “Shawn Moody is the epitome of the American Dream, building his business from scratch, and has the expertise as an independent leader in his community to guide Maine to success. While Moody has spent his life creating jobs for fellow Mainers, Mills has spent much of her life running for political office.”
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett criticized Moody on Tuesday, however, saying Moody would continue policies of outgoing Gov. Paul LePage that haven’t been in the best interests of all of Maine.
“Shawn Moody continues to push the same, tired Republican policies that have left rural Mainers behind over the last eight years and that the Maine Department of Labor found will lead to almost no job growth,” Bartlett said in a prepared statement. “Making it harder for Mainers to access health care and underfunding education is no way to help Mainers get ahead, but unfortunately that’s all Moody and Republicans in the legislature have to offer.”
Moody, who previously ran for governor as an independent candidate against LePage in 2010, has been a Republican for less than a year, announcing he had joined the party in October 2017.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports on the race released in July, the Moody and Mills campaigns have raised roughly the same amount – $1 million – with the bulk of Moody’s contributions coming from his own pocket.
The two publicly released independent polls on the race show Mills and Moody in a virtual dead heat, including among older voters, in a state with the oldest median age in the nation.