AUGUSTA, Maine — A Republican legislator who has built a reputation as a moderate and has had occasional public disagreements with Gov. Paul LePage is planning to seek a Senate seat left open by another Republican’s decision to withdraw from the race.
Rep. Patrick Flood of Winthrop told The Associated Press he “would be honored” to be the candidate in the Senate District 21 race if he wins the local party committee’s nomination.
Flood, who serves as House chairman of the powerful, budget-reviewing Appropriations Committee, is considered to be a strong candidate as his party tries to retain its legislative majority. The Republicans hold a 19-15 majority in the 35-member Maine Senate, which also has one independent member.
The Senate seat currently is occupied by three-term Republican Sen. Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, who was considered a strong contender for re-election but decided to drop out of the race after last week’s primary.
In his eight years in the Maine House, Flood has developed a reputation as a moderate Republican who takes a bipartisan approach to budget issues. At times, the Winthrop Republican has publicly disagreed with LePage.
In April, he joined Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, in urging LePage to apologize for public comments in which he said middle management in state government was “about as corrupt as you can be.”
And in January, Flood led Republican colleagues in opposing a key piece of the governor’s proposal to close a $220 million gap in the Department of Health and Human Services budget. Flood was opposed to a portion of that budget plan that cut $60 million from the shortfall by eliminating funding for private, nonmedical institutions that serve the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled and patients of substance abuse treatment programs.
A year ago, Flood offered his resignation as Appropriations Committee chairman after Democrats on the committee accused Republican leaders of fast-tracking a contentious health insurance reform bill by attempting to exempt it from the typical Appropriations Committee review and without allowing the Maine Bureau of Insurance to first study its impact.
House Speaker Robert Nutting didn’t accept Flood’s resignation, and Flood ultimately withdrew it, lamenting the “destructive outcome” of the situation.
Flood is not allowed to run for re-election to his House seat due to term limits. If Flood is nominated for the Senate seat, he’ll face David Bustin of Hallowell, a former legislator.