AUGUSTA, Maine — Stephen Bannon, an architect of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, wants Ann LePage, the wife of Gov. Paul LePage, to run against U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018, according to a Sunday report in The New York Times.
The report cited anonymous sources who have spoken to Bannon, the controversial head of the conservative Breitbart News who was the Republican president’s campaign CEO and White House chief strategist before Trump fired him in August.
A Maine Republican operative confirmed to the Bangor Daily News on Sunday that Bannon wants Ann LePage to run. It’s unclear how interested she is. The source said she previously didn’t want to join the campaign “in a million years,” but Bannon is “hard to say no to,” so she’s considering it.
It would be a surprising move for the first lady: While Paul LePage’s seven-year tenure has been polarizing, Ann LePage has a warmer persona and has stayed mostly out of the political fray, making her largest share of headlines when she took a waitressing job last year.
When Paul LePage was considering a run against King, a first-term independent who caucuses with Democrats, he often said his wife wasn’t convinced that he should run. He ruled out his own run in May and state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn is the only Republican in the race so far.
Asked about the report, Brent Littlefield, the governor’s political adviser, said Ann LePage has been a “fantastic” first lady and an advocate for veterans. But he said the governor has often said he’s “not a fan of politics and he’s not a politician” and Ann LePage’s feelings are “similar.”
A Bannon spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment. Outside the White House, he has reportedly been trying to drum up Trump-friendly challengers in general election and primary races. Both LePages backed Trump in his 2016 party nomination fight.
In a statement, Brakey praised Ann LePage, saying he “would love to see” her “continue in public service” and would “welcome anyone into this race who wants to help advance a vigorous debate on the issues we face” in Maine.