State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, is considering challenging U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, in 2018.

State Sen. Eric Brakey has taken the first formal step toward a possible campaign to try to unseat U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018.

Brakey said Wednesday he has formed an exploratory committee that will allow him to raise enough funds to pay for expenses related to a possible campaign against the first-term Maine independent.

Brakey, an Auburn Republican with strong libertarian leanings, said King “has really wasted his time in Washington, DC” and aligned himself almost totally with the Democrats.

“It’s hard to point to a single thing that Angus King has accomplished,” Brakey said.

It’s uncertain how long Brakey may wait before deciding whether or not to take on King next year, but he is unlikely to be the only one eyeing a run for the seat. Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who can’t seek another term leading the state, has already said he might take on King.

At this point, King, who could not be reached for comment, is the only candidate who has filed with the Federal Election Commission. Candidates for Senate seats typically begin raising money and laying the groundwork for a campaign at least a year ahead of time.

Brakey, who has been open about his interest for months, said he decided to form the exploratory committee because he is strongly considering taking on the challenge.

He said that raising some money will allow him to travel to the nation’s capital to meet with party officials and others who play a role in the campaign.

He said he’s already spoken with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who is the son of Ron Paul, a former presidential candidate and stalwart libertarian. Brakey donated $2,000 to Ron Paul’s 2012 bid for the White House and served as his Maine state director.

Brakey won a state Senate seat in 2014 at age 26, sweeping all five municipalities in the 20th District, the first time a candidate pulled that off since Olympia Snowe managed the feat in her state Senate race in 1976. He easily won reelection last year.

In the state Senate, Brakey has championed welfare reform and the right to carry concealed firearms as well as taking aim at government efforts to help big businesses.

Brakey said the problem in Washington is that “I don’t think our federal government is standing up for the little guy.

He said some politicians stick up for big government while others cheerlead for big business. All of them, Brakey said, “are working together and screwing over the little guy.”

Brakey said the federal government has piled up $20 trillion worth of debt and promised entitlements that it can’t pay for, a trajectory he wants to reverse in a bid to return more power to the people.

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