AUGUSTA – State Rep. Tom Saviello, U-Wilton, announced Monday that he is chairing Citizens for McCain campaign in Maine, part of a national effort to attract support among Democrats and Independents for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Saviello said he has supported McCain since last year, “even in the dark times” before his New Hampshire primary win reinvigorated his sinking presidential hopes.

“I grew up during the Vietnam war and I remember John McCain … I’ve admired this man for a long time,” Saviello said. “I’ve never been involved with a national campaign, so I thought this would be kind of fun to do.”

Saviello, who is running for his fourth term in the Maine House, said he has no specific plans to campaign independently for McCain, but is willing to do anything needed.

“I’m going to be doing my normal campaigning, I’m going to be out there,” he said. “If there are parades they need me to go to or if they want me to write letters to the editor, I certainly will do that. Whatever they ask me to do.”

Elected as a Democrat to the Legislature in 2002 and 2004, Saviello became an Independent in 2005. He said McCain’s reputation for working across party lines should appeal to Maine voters.

“He fits our pattern, he fits it very nicely, and I think as people start to listen to what he has to say, I think they’re going to be intrigued by him,” Saviello said. “It can’t be one party or the other, it’s got to be everybody working together. That’s the piece that most fascinates me with John McCain, he’s been able to do that.”

Saviello said McCain’s energy policy should also garner support from Maine voters.

“We in Maine are so dependent on oil, we can’t just talk about efficiency, we have to put everything on the table in putting an energy policy together,” he said. “At the end of the day, we may never drill off shore, but if we don’t put it on the table to start, we never have the discussion.”

Though McCain stopped by southern Maine earlier this summer to campaign and raise funds, Saviello said it might be worth his time to swing by Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Maine is one of two states that has the ability to split its electoral votes, making the more conservative part of the state ripe for the picking. In 1994, Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot nearly won an electoral vote from the 2nd District.

“The 2nd District is more conservative, obviously,” Saviello said. “This could be a very, very close race when it comes down to it, so I think (campaigning there) is a good strategy.”

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