AUGUSTA, Maine — The list of Republicans running for Maine’s 2nd District U.S. House seat grew Thursday when former state Sen. Richard Rosen told the Bangor Daily News he intends to seek the seat.
Rosen joins another high-profile former Senate Republican, Kevin Raye of Perry, who told the Bangor Daily News earlier this week that he is also likely to announce a run for Congress in the coming weeks.
Raye and Rosen are among a handful of Republicans eyeing the congressional seat that is being vacated by Democrat Mike Michaud, who is running for governor. Bruce Poliquin of Georgetown formally announced his candidacy this week, and Blaine Richardson of Belfast, who lost the 2012 2nd District GOP primary to Raye, also plans to run.
Rosen’s statement on Thursday was the first time he has publicly disclosed his aspirations for another public office.
“It’s my intention to run for the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District,” Rosen said Thursday afternoon. “I currently have a job to do for the Legislature around identifying $34 million in General Fund savings. I will see that work through to completion before making a formal announcement later in the fall.”
Rosen, of Bucksport, who served three terms in the House and four terms in the Senate before being forced out of office last year by term limits, was hired last fall by Gov. Paul LePage to lead the governor’s new Office of Policy and Management. Rosen’s primary directive in that post is to lead a task force made up of legislators, economists, tax experts and business representatives to find $33.75 million in savings in the current biennium, which began July 1.
Rosen, whose tenure in the Legislature culminated with serving two terms on the powerful Appropriations Committee, said his deadline for completing that work is late September and that he’ll turn his attention to the congressional campaign afterward.
Raye, Poliquin and Richardson are all veterans of campaigns for state- and national-level offices.
Poliquin lost a seven-way race for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, followed by a two-year stint as the state’s treasurer. Poliquin lost another primary battle — this time for a U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Olympia Snowe — in 2012 to Charlie Summers, who was eventually defeated by former Gov. Angus King, an independent.
The 2014 election would mark Raye’s third attempt to win the 2nd District House seat. The former longtime staffer for Snowe has lost twice in head-to-head elections against Michaud.
Richardson, a former Navy captain who is known for his staunch conservative ideals, sought the 2nd District seat in 2012. He made his candidacy official earlier this month.
House Minority Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton has been campaigning for the seat for several weeks but announced Wednesday that he has suspended his candidacy.
Willette said Thursday that he decided his time would be better spent recruiting Republican candidates for the Legislature and helping them, LePage and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins during next year’s elections.
“That decision was a week or so in the making,” said Willette. “The campaign was going great and I was gathering a lot of great support, but at this point my efforts are best used helping the party go into the 2014 election.”
Willette, 24, who billed himself during his congressional campaign as a voice for the younger generation, said he will continue to pursue that goal at the state level.
“I want to use that to help build up the party with a lot of young Republicans,” he said. “I believe the Republican Party better represents young people’s chances of getting jobs.”
Former House Majority Leader Joshua Tardy, R-Newport, whose name has been circulating as a potential candidate, also told the Bangor Daily News on Thursday that he does not intend to run.