AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage said he may jump into the U.S. Senate race after all.
Speaking to a Portland radio station Thursday morning, the governor said he’s getting pressure to reconsider his decision to steer clear of the 2018 contest.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term Maine independent, has only one challenger to his re-election bid so far, Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn.
LePage said Brakey is “a great guy and a good person,” but his campaign hasn’t yet caught hold with voters.
If Brakey “doesn’t start resonating pretty quick” with the public, LePage said, he may change his mind and jump into the race after all.
Brakey is aiming to make sure the governor doesn’t think he should.
“Now that the Maine Senate is ending its work for the year, I’m looking forward to hitting the campaign trail to meet with all the people of Maine – from Kittery to Caribou – to discuss why we need more liberty for the little guy, not more Washington kings,” Brakey said.
The 28-year-old state senator said he has been “overwhelmed by the outpouring of grassroots supports from conservatives, Republicans, libertarians and voters from every stripe in Maine” since he entered the campaign in April.
“The message is clear,” Brakey said. “We need to send somebody to Washington who will stand up and protect the liberties of the little guy and end the reign of career politicians.”
LePage, who can’t run for a third term as governor, said this spring he wouldn’t challenge King. But, he told WGAN radio, that he’s getting “a lot of pressure” to reverse himself.
“It’s about getting somebody in Washington that will represent the state of Maine,” said LePage, who has said he ‘‘wouldn’t make a very good legislator.’’
LePage said he hopes Brakey can pull it off.
“I wish people would start paying more attention to him,” LePage said. “I’m hoping he takes off.”
He said Brakey, 28, an Ohio native, has “a passion for the state of Maine” that King lacks.
Brakey said he’s been focusing on his work in the State House while the Legislature is in session.
“My first commitment is doing the job the people of my district elected me to do: standing up in Augusta against the career politicians and special interests seeking to steal from the people of Maine more of our hard-earned dollars and our hard-won liberties,” Brakey said.
“Too many elected officials focus on their next election, rather than finishing the job they were elected to do,” he said.