AUBURN – State Sen. Eric Brakey said Thursday that he will not seek reelection next year because he is going to become the executive director of the Free State Project, a group encouraging libertarian-minded Americans to move to New Hampshire.

Brakey, who will move to the neighboring state once his term is over, said the organization’s mission is “to build a homeland for liberty” in a state whose motto is “Live Free or Die.”

Brakey, 35, a Republican who won election to the state Senate in 2014 and served two terms, ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2018 and lost a GOP primary in 2020 for the U.S. House seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

After working in Texas for Young Americans for Freedom, he returned to Auburn and regained his Senate seat last year representing Auburn, Poland, Durham and New Gloucester.

Brakey said his decision is motivated in part by conversations with his wife about their “shared desire to grow our family and the challenges of doing so” while remaining busy in elected office.

Republican congressional candidate Eric Brakey talks with a passing voter on Election Day 2020 at Longley School in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

He said he’s glad to see more “champions of liberty” in Augusta, and around the country, but he’s not so happy that “the Maine electorate has lately followed the rest of New England into the siren song of progressivism — electing politicians who believe we can tax, print, borrow and spend our way into prosperity, while stripping the people of their fundamental freedoms in exchange for temporary illusions of safety.”


Brakey said New Hampshire these days “sits on the knife’s edge between liberty and tyranny” because “progressive forces are only a few votes away from a majority” in the state House there. If they win it, he said, their priority is adopting an income tax that he said would submerge “the last remnants of economic liberty in New England under the waves of socialistic servitude to state authority.”

“I believe there must be at least one bastion for liberty in New England,” Brakey said. “If I can help tip the scales, I feel called to do what I can.”

Besides, he said, “it is my sincere hope that a restoration of liberty in New Hampshire will overflow into neighboring states, like Maine, as people see and demand from the political class the prosperity that accompanies real freedom.”

“That’s why I am excited for the opportunity to continue making a difference outside elected office,” Brakey said.

The Free State Project began in 2001 with a plan to recruit at least 20,000 libertarians to move to a single state where they could make an impact. Two years later, the loosely formed group chose New Hampshire as its target.

Now a nonprofit with annual revenues of $230,000, it said it has convinced more than 6,000 people to move to the Granite State so far. Seventeen of them hold seats in the New Hampshire legislature.


The endeavor’s founder, Jason Sorens, said in his initial call for the project 22 years ago that once libertarians take over a state’s government, they can pursue an agenda that includes slashing budgets and refusing to take federal highway funds “and the strings attached to them.”

Once in power, they can “bargain with the federal government” to allow more local decision-making, he said.

“We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this,” Sorens said in his advocacy for a “stealth-libertarian” approach to changing political dynamics in the nation.

“We can use our leverage for liberty,” he said.

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