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

Auburn Republican Eric Brakey’s longshot bid to win a U.S. Senate seat next year grew a little more likely with the announcement late Wednesday that Gov. Paul LePage won’t jump into the race.

A month after the governor declared he wouldn’t make a good legislator, his political adviser said LePage is going to stay focused on running the state instead of running for office because “there is more to do” in Augusta.

That leaves Brakey, a two-term state senator from Auburn, as the only Republican contender seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent elected in 2012. Other GOP contenders may, however, give it a shot as well.

Brakey called LePage “a tremendous leader for conservative principles, limiting the role of government to protect the liberty of the little guy.”

“As he focuses on fighting for the people of Maine as our Governor, I look forward to working with him to end the reign of Angus King and restore liberty for the little guy — not only in Maine — but down in Washington, D.C.,” Brakey said in a written statement.

Brakey, 28, would be among the youngest senators ever if he were to defeat King in 2018, something he’s convinced he can do if he can come up with “a winning message” based on his libertarian philosophy, raise enough money and work hard to reach every possible voter.

LePage, who is in his second term, is not allowed to run for governor again in 2018. What he might do afterward remains fuzzy.

There’s been considerable speculation he might take a job with President Donald Trump’s administration, though he’s insisted he doesn’t want to live in Washington.

His political adviser, Brent Littlefield, issued a statement late Wednesday that said LePage is going to “remain focused on the job at hand” rather than challenging King, a former governor himself.

Littlefield said LePage, elected in 2010, “has helped the state of Maine achieve the largest number of private sector jobs in history, implement the largest tax cut in state history” and other achievements.

Brakey has twice won by large margins in a district that’s usually been held by Democrats.

A former actor who grew up in Ohio, he credits his political success to “a whole network of like-minded liberty activists” whom he met as state director for the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul in 2012 and Rand Paul in 2016. It helped him raise money and get volunteer help, he said.

His challenge to King has caught the attention of libertarians across the nation, which may help him again with fundraising and staff. Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, has already penned a fundraising appeal for Brakey.

At the end of March, King’s campaign had $755,000 in cash on hand, a small total by typical Senate standards. Brakey has not yet had to file any specific reports with the Federal Election Commission.


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