AUGUSTA — Senate President Mike Thibodeau said Monday that he is withdrawing from the Republican primary race for governor in order to focus more of his time on his legislative leadership position and his business.

Thibodeau said in a statement posted on his campaign’s website and Facebook page that “there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to run a business, run the State Senate, have a quality family life, and run for governor.”

Thibodeau, who was one of five Republicans seeking the party’s nomination, listed conforming Maine’s tax code to the federal income tax cuts passed by Congress last year as a top priority that “will take a tremendous amount of work in the coming weeks and months.”

“Therefore, I have decided to withdraw from the Republican Primary for governor,” Thibodeau said of his five-month-old campaign. “I am truly disappointed to have to make this decision, but I believe in my heart it is the right thing to do. I want to thank my family, friends and supporters across this state. I know many of them will be disappointed as well.”

“I got into this race because I wanted to make Maine a better place for our citizens to live and work, and I have decided to withdraw from this race for the same exact reason,” Thibodeau continued. “There is much work to be done, and I look forward to continuing the fight for strong communities and a growing economy.”

Thibodeau’s departure will undoubtedly shake up the Republican primary to be held June 12. The other candidates seeking the party’s nomination for governor are Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, of Lisbon Falls, House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, of Newport, former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, of China, and businessman Shawn Moody, of Gorham.

The owner of a snow shovel manufacturing business and a heavy equipment dealership, Thibodeau is state government’s second-highest-ranking Republican leader after Gov. Paul LePage.

Thibodeau and LePage have clashed repeatedly in recent years over his attempts to build consensus in the closely divided Maine Senate, efforts that often led to the governor getting less than he desired. Thibodeau’s pragmatic approach to running the Senate has won him respect from both sides of the aisle in Augusta and even prompted some to view him as a moderate Republican, although he remained a stalwart conservative in his personal politics.

The Winterport resident reported raising a respectable $100,764 between his October campaign launch and Dec. 31. But Moody had raised $301,705 before year’s end ($150,000 of which came from his own pockets) and Mayhew raised $197,838, according to the most recent campaign finance filings. Fredette reported raising $14,435 as of year’s end while Mason is running a publicly financed campaign as part of the Maine Clean Elections system.

Former Senate President Kevin Raye, a moderate Republican from Perry who served for years alongside Thibodeau, said his withdrawal from the race was “a loss for our state.”

“Mike Thibodeau is a good & decent man who has worked to solve problems & has led with respect, civility & a constructive approach,” Raye said on Twitter. “With his temperament & breadth of experience, he would have made Maine proud as Governor.”

Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau


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