Louie Luchini has been running nearly all his life. And no wonder, with the success he has had on roads, trails and tracks from coast to coast.
A championship-studded career at Ellsworth High School led to the opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate cross country and track at Stanford University, where he became an All- American many times over.
That led to several more years of competition under the Nike banner, but in the last year the allure of all that is Maine has brought Luchini back home, where running continues to be a focal point of his life.
But it’s not just road races any more. Luchini, who celebrated his 29th birthday Monday, is running for office — specifically the House District 38 seat that represents Ellsworth, Otis and Trenton.
Luchini is unopposed in the Democratic primary — but he’s quick to say he still needs 25 votes on June 8 in order to move on to the general election. There he would face the winner of the Republican primary race between Michael Povich and Matt Boucher.
“The response so far has been very positive,” Luchini said. “People think it’s great that I’m running for office, and a lot of people like to see younger people getting involved.“
The decision to seek public office isn’t part of a long-held master strategy by Luchini, who graduated from Stanford in 2004 with a degree in human biology.
“I wasn’t planning on being a politician,” said Luchini. “Before this I was looking toward the medical field, but a lot of my friends thought this would be good for me to do, and I thought it would be a good way to give back to my community. It’s a pretty unique opportunity.”
One factor in that decision was that upon his return to Maine last summer, Luchini quickly began to recognize what others have lamented for years, the lack of quality jobs for young professionals that often forces them to head south for career opportunities.
“A lot of my friends have to leave the state,” said Luchini. “What really put me over the edge for doing this was that I really enjoy being back here and I want to stay here, and through politics I might be able to help out other people who want to stay here, too.”
While Luchini isn’t in full campaign mode yet — “I’ll start going door-to-door in June,” he said — recent conversations with area business people and other potential constituents have reinforced to him the importance of such issues as jobs, energy and health care.
Luchini says running for office eventually will cut into his road racing schedule, though he plans to continue training for a marathon either this fall or winter.
But in the interim he is poised for a marathon of another sort.
The first-time candidate hopes his cause might be aided by any crossover name-recognition value gained from his storied running history, but he doesn’t plan to run merely on his racing laurels.
He’s already talked with another competitive runner-turned-legislator, Rep. Adam Goode (D-Bangor), and Luchini believes one piece of advice he received about seeking office fits right into his personal background.
“I think one of the things that’s made me successful in running is my work ethic, and I’ll definitely step it up as the summer goes on,” Luchini said. “I’m ready to put that same commitment to politics because I see this as a really great opportunity for me to help the area.”