AUBURN — Rather than trying to step up to a state Senate seat, Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn, plans to seek re-election to the House.

Bickford’s decision clears the way for Assistant House Republican Leader Ellie Espling of New Gloucester to run for the 20th District Senate seat that Republican Eric Brakey is giving up to run for the U.S. Senate.

There is no Democratic candidate in the race yet. The election is still 11 months away.

Bickford opted to step aside in the state Senate contest because he is eligible for two more terms in the House while Espling cannot run again because of term limits.

“After several substantive conversations with Rep. Espling, we agreed the better option is to have us both serving in the 129th Legislature as opposed to one of us sitting home,” Bickford said in a written statement Friday.

“Since I am still eligible to run for re-election to the Maine House and Rep. Espling is not, due to term limits, it seemed the logical choice was for me to run for re-election in the House and have Rep. Espling run for the Senate,” he said.

Bickford said he has no doubt Espling “will make a fantastic senator for Androscoggin County and she has my full support.”

Espling hailed Bickford as “an invaluable part of the Maine Legislature” who has been a strong voice for Auburn.

The 20th District includes Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot, New Gloucester and Poland.

Espling has the backing of Brakey, Gov. Paul LePage and former Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte.

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Rep. Bruce Bickford (file photo)


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