For the past nine months, state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn has sailed along as the sole Republican challenger in the race to take on U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term Maine independent.

Now, though, he has competition for the GOP’s backing.

A colorful, 58-year-old financial planner, Max Linn of Bar Harbor jumped into the contest this week, his early campaign echoing themes that worked for President Donald Trump.

Linn told Maine Republicans recently that the GOP “needs a Maine senator that is not wishy-washy on his support for President Trump and the ‘America First’ agenda.”

“We need people in Washington helping Trump because he’s in the middle of that damned swamp,” Linn said. “It’s real clear to me that we need Trump support in Washington, and we’re not going to get it from Angus King.”

Brakey, a 29-year-old libertarian, will likely face Linn in a June 12 primary to decide which who will secure Republican backing in the Nov. 6 general election against King. Democrat Zak Ringelstein and independent Max Hammer are also vying for the job.

“No one is entitled to anything when it comes to public office,” Brakey said. “We have a built a great campaign and I am proud to run on my proven record of welfare reform, fiscal conservatism and ‘America First’ principles.
 
“I plan to take my ‘Liberty for the Little Guy’ message across the state, and earn the votes of the Maine people in both the primary and general elections.”
 
Linn has not filed as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission, but did show a picture on his Twitter feed Wednesday of the completed form.

Linn, who has previously sought elected office in Florida, cited a handful of issues that he hopes will resonate with GOP voters: immigration, trade, infrastructure and a strong military.

“These are the bedrocks of my campaign,” Linn told Maine Republicans. He called it his “Maine Now” agenda.

Taking a hardline approach on immigration, Linn said that every undocumented immigrant should be deported.

“If they’re not legal, they gotta go back — 100 percent. There’s no exceptions to that,” Linn said. “Zero tolerance on amnesty is what I stand for.”

He claimed open borders have had “a devastating effect” on Maine, and offered to help build a wall on the Mexican border with his own two hands.

“Our school systems are being asked to teach up to 34 different languages,” Linn said. “It needs to stop. This is insanity.”

Lewiston schools accommodate students with 34 languages, educators have said. They have also pointed out that immigrant children have a higher graduation rate than native-born Mainers and often pursue college degrees.

Linn said trade deals negotiated between the United States and other countries haven’t helped the state.

“Maine has been sold down the river with trade policies,” he said, contributing to its lackluster economy.

“Maine deserves open mills and closed borders, not closed mills and open borders,” Linn said in a video he posted outside a shuttered factory in Millinocket.

In Bangor, Linn said the state needs more infrastructure spending — items such as roads and ports — and that federal lawmakers should bring home the money for it.

He also called for more defense spending,which could also bolster Maine’s economy.

“If we’re going to build battleships, they’re going to be in Bath, Maine,” Linn said.

In a speech to Maine Republicans, Linn said he’s done business around the world and recognizes that the key to economic revival is “a strong middle class.”

An eight-year resident of Bar Harbor, Linn said he was “very involved in the Trump campaign,” including attending more than 30 rallies and traveling the country in a mobile home to tout the unconventional candidate who wound up in the White House.

But he has not always been a Trump-touting Mainer.

In Florida, he ran as the Reform Party’s candidate for governor in 2006, getting the most attention shortly before the election for landing a small plane in the middle of an interstate highway in Orlando after it suffered engine trouble. The Reform Party began as a vehicle for Texas businessman Ross Perot’s independent presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996.

Two years later, he ran for a U.S. House seat as a Democrat and briefly suspended his unsuccessful campaign because he wanted to focus on supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama, whom he said would have an impact “much greater than one additional Democratic congressman” on issues such as health care and ending the war in Iraq.

He later pushed term limits for members of Congress, founding America’s Term Limits Campaign in 2015 to tout the idea. He created DonaldTrumpPatriots.com to tout both term limits and Trump.

Linn, who grew up in Florida, graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1983 and then worked as a financial planner. He said he has done extensive business across the globe, especially in Asia.

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn of Bar Harbor points to a shuttered factory in Millinocket. “Maine deserves open mills and closed borders, not closed mills and open borders,” he said. (Photo provided)


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