Tom Saviello has announced he will not be running for governor following news that he was considering a run in August. Saviello is a former Maine state senator, current Wilton selectperson and prominent NECEC corridor opponent. File photo

WILTON — Tom Saviello will not be running for governor after all.

In July, Saviello posted to Facebook that he was “considering a run for governor.”

Saviello is a Wilton Selectperson, prominent New England Clean Energy Connect-corridor opponent, former District 17 state senator and business owner in downtown Farmington.

At the time and in an interview with the Franklin Journal in December, Saviello talked about being “worried about the future” of Maine for a multitude of reasons.

They include:

The continued fight over the NECEC corridor.


• Foreign influence over Maine politics.

• The current property-tax system.

• Expanding broadband access in Maine.

• “The mess” of the Department of Health and Human Services and Child Protective Services.

• His disapproval of the current major candidates: former Republican Gov. Paul LePage and current Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

But on Jan. 27, Saviello explained that his ultimate decision not to run sprouted from his initial conversation with the Franklin Journal. In that interview, a question was raised about how Saviello would appeal to younger voters and other marginalized populations, such as Maine’s refugee communities, Indigenous communities, etc.


“I can’t do it [appeal to younger generations]. I can’t do it,” Saviello said. “The bottom line number one reason is I’m too old.”

Saviello, 71, said he “doesn’t know what’s important to [that generation].”

“I’m sure that there’s some comment that I would make, that I would probably offend a 20-year-old or a 22-year-old, 18-year-old,” Saviello said. “Because I don’t know what their world is like today. It’s a whole different [world] than when I was 18 years old.”

Saviello hopes this lesson, that he’s not the right age for the position, is something both Mills and LePage learn.

“I believe the two other candidates that are running are too old, too. And they should step aside and encourage a younger generation to take their place,” he said.

In a statement announcing his decision, Saviello wrote “it is time this generation takes the lead in making Maine a great place to live, work and play.


“I will point out the two leading candidates running for this office are older than I am. They too should be asked how they will identify with this generation,” he wrote. “Policies they set could have a dramatic impact on this generation for years to come.”

This reporter posed that though U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) is one of the oldest senators in Congress, he is also one of the most popular politicians among younger generationsthough data has found Sanders is the most popular U.S. senator, period.

“I don’t think I have the energy to do what Bernie Sanders does,” Saviello said. He also talked about Bernie’s career-spanning spirit, which has made him so appealing to younger voters.

When Saviello was still mulling over his decision, he talked about making efforts to learn about the issues that impact Maine’s different populations.

However, because of the late start to run and his inexperience with younger generations, Saviello feels he doesn’t have “the time and the energy” to do a campaign justice.

Saviello also has concerns about his ability to bypass partisanship as governor given the state of American politics right now.


Saviello said in December that as an independent governor, he’d want to collaborate with the Maine Legislature and bring “both parties” into the room.

But having made his decision, Saviello feels it would be harder to “build trust.”

Additionally, Saviello acknowledged the reality of third party candidates and their potential impact on an election.

History does show that third-party candidates can steer the direction of, or even “determine” an election (see the 2016, 2000 and 1992 presidential elections, to name a few examples).

But in Maine — a state with rank-choice voting, an independent U.S. senator (Sen. Angus King) and a number of independent politicians in the legislature — that outcome is perhaps less certain.

Additionally, voters often appreciate third party candidates or, perhaps candidates with less of a chance of winning for bringing their platforms, important issues into a race.


Saviello was initially optimistic about his chances as an independent candidate. However, he now feels differently.

“I don’t think I’ll win. I’m just being very candid,” he said. “I might get lucky, get 20% of the vote … That’s not enough to win an election.

“What I would do is hand the election to someone else, I might hand it to Paul LePage. Might hand it to Janet Mills. I don’t know,” he added. “I don’t want to be that deciding factor.”

“In my time in Maine there have been four times where a third-party candidate’s ballot presence secured the win for another candidate,” Saviello wrote in his statement. “This resulted in good governors, “so-so” governors and a disaster. You can decide yourself which one is which.”

And ultimately, Saviello said “I’ve retired and I kind of like retirement.”

“Now it’s time to chill and help where I can. But it’s time to chill,” he said. “I’ve got my radio show, I’ve got my TV show. I like having a snow day. I have the freedom to go and do what I want to do right now.”

His retirement seems different though from the conventional definition. He is currently the owner of the Mercantile in downtown Farmington, a Wilton selectperson and an enduring political figure near the center of the NECEC corridor fight.

Saviello is certainly not enthusiastic about either LePage or Mills. He was explicit in his statement that he will not be endorsing either candidate. Perhaps, he said in the interview, he could mentor or guide a candidate if the right one announced a campaign.

But if LePage and Mills are ultimately the only major players, Saviello has some pieces of advice for them: “do no harm”; “take great care” of Maine, create a brighter future for the kids of today; and “figure out how to move the state forward with the values that are important to Mainers.”

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