AUGUSTA — A revived flirtation with a bid for governor by Cape Elizabeth financier Robert A.G. Monks is already causing ripples in politics and government.
Monks said last week he would make no plans to enter the crowded Republican gubernatorial field until at least after he has completed his assignment as an appointee of Gov. John R. McKernan on a four-member panel studying Maine’s pension system.
But Monks’ refusal to take his name out of consideration has numerous observers anticipating his entry and at least one potential rival openly conceding that his plans could affect hers.
“His candidacy obviously has a serious political impact on the rest of the field,” said Rep. Judith C. Foss, R-Yarmouth, who has been testing the waters since shortly after Labor Day.
“It is very fluid,” she said to describe the dynamics of the Republican race, in which seven other potential candidates would be hard-pressed to counter the financial resources Monks could provide to his own campaign.
Foss’ delay in formally announcing her own candidacy has become a topic of speculation within GOP circles. But she said Thursday her exploratory campaign remains on track.
“I’m out talking to people and getting some support lined up,” she said.
At the same time, Foss said, she was “just sort of waiting to see how the field firms up.”
Foss said a possible Monks candidacy could prompt her to change plans and that she was “just being a good businessperson” in not making a final commitment without “knowing all the facts.”
Monks said any decision on politics would have to wait until the study commission he chairs completes its work. The panel is expected to present recommendations to the Legislature in mid-January, and Monks said he wanted to avoid any perception that the commission was politically motivated.
But House Speaker John L. Martin maintains that Monks should not consider a run for governor because of his involvement in the pension system study. Martin said he raised the issue with McKernan prior to Monks’ appointment.
The large GOP field of gubernatorial candidates is matched by an almost equally large Democratic roster, which currently numbers six.
In addition, three independent candidates have registered, with a fourth considered likely to enter the race early next year.
A number of Republicans say Monks ruled himself out of the Blaine House race earlier this year, only to open the door to a potential candidacy in recent weeks.