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Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush to headline LePage fundraiser

Mary F. Calvert | Reuters
Mary F. Calvert | Reuters
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, June 14, 2013.
By Matthew Stone, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage’s re-election campaign will get a financial boost July 2 at a Kennebunkport fundraiser headlined by a potential 2016 White House contender.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who served two terms as governor of the Sunshine State, will be the special guest at the fundraiser at Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, where the Bush family’s summer compound is located, according to an invitation obtained by the Bangor Daily News.

Brent Littlefield, LePage’s political adviser, confirmed the details of the invitation.

The invitation lists former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe and her husband, former Maine Gov. John McKernan; current Sen. Susan Collins; lobster magnate Linda Bean; and two of LePage’s rivals for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, Les Otten and Bruce Poliquin, as event hosts.

Jeb Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, hasn’t made up his mind about a 2016 run for the White House. He said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that his family is divided over his potential candidacy.

Former first lady Barbara Bush said in April, “We’ve had enough Bushes” serve in the White House, according to CBS News. The two former presidents in the family, however, have encouraged Jeb Bush to run, according to news reports.

Guests at the July 2 LePage fundraiser can pay $3,000 per couple or $2,000 per person to attend a “private reception and photo opportunity” while other guests can contribute $100 to the campaign for regular admission.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would top Jeb Bush 50 percent to 43 percent if the election were held today, Politico reported. Bush would top Vice President Joe Biden, another potential Democratic contender in 2016, 47-43.

LePage has largely looked to Bush as a model during his time as governor, especially on education policy. One of Bush’s reforms for Florida schools was an A-to-F grading system, which LePage adapted for Maine schools earlier this year.

Also, in March, LePage hosted a daylong education summit at Augusta’s Cony High School with an agenda that was heavily weighted toward spotlighting Bush’s Florida reforms. The summit featured speakers from the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was founded by Bush, who related “The Florida Story.” The conference also featured Florida’s current education commissioner, Tony Bennett.

LePage hasn’t formally thrown his hat into the ring for next year’s gubernatorial race, but he’s been raising money for a re-election bid since 2011, the year he took office. The race is shaping up to be a three-way contest featuring independent Eliot Cutler, who narrowly lost to LePage in 2010, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who announced last week he would form an exploratory committee to weigh a 2014 gubernatorial bid.

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