Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, speaks at a Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee hearing in 2015. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

Gov. Paul LePage has thrown his support behind state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, as Brakey seeks to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

“He has my full support and I plan to help him win in any way I can,” LePage said in a prepared statement. While LePage has toyed with the notion of running for the seat himself several times in the last two years, he said Brakey now has his full backing.

LePage’s endorsement comes in the midst of an ongoing legal controversy involving Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Max Linn, a Bar Harbor resident and financial adviser who sought to run against Brakey in a Republican primary. Dunlap disqualified Linn from the Maine ballot after concluding there were fraudulent signatures on his nominating petitions. Linn appealed the disqualification, but Dunlap’s decision was backed in a recent opinion of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and by a Kennebec County Superior Court justice.

Linn has still been vigorously campaigning in Maine, but LePage made no mention of Brakey’s former rival. While Linn’s name will still appear on the Republican ballot on June 12m primary votes for him will not be counted, according to Dunlap, who has also notified voters and election clerks Linn is not a valid candidate in Maine.

A handful of Linn’s supporters, meanwhile, have filed a complaint in federal court seeking to have his candidacy restored – a case that will be the subject of a court proceeding Friday.

King, an independent and former two-term Maine governor from Brunswick, is seeking his second term in the U.S. Senate. Also in the race is Portland Democrat Zak Ringelstein.

“I have known Sen. Brakey for years, and seen him up close, watched him work and worked with him closely on important issues,” LePage said. “Eric is a tireless public servant who cares deeply about freedom, our future and I know he will always fight to put Maine people first.”

The governor also took a swipe at King – without mentioning him by name.

“(Brakey) has a strong record of accomplishment, consistently delivering for those he serves,” LePage said. “And, most importantly Eric is a man of his word who can always be trusted to do what he says he will. We have a clear choice this November: an incumbent Senator who stands with the elites and insiders in Washington, or fresh new leadership that will fight for Maine.”