The list of candidates for Congress on Maine’s 2018 ballot continues to grow, including some from a new political party in Maine: The Libertarian Party.

Chris Lyons of Brunswick has announced he has launched a campaign to oust fellow Brunswickian Angus King, an independent, from the U.S. Senate. Farther north, Brian Kresge of Winterport has launched his own bid as a Libertarian against 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican.

Both are leaving the starting gates with similar messages: that Republicans and Democrats in Washington and at the state level have failed to lead and govern. And both are starting a considerably steep uphill slog as fourth-party candidates taking on established incumbents.

Call the prospect of a Libertarian candidate being elected a long shot, but that’s also what was said about the party gaining official status in Maine in 2015 and 2016 as supporters sought to register the 5,000 voters they needed take the first step.

The Secretary of State’s office rejected some of the signatures in January 2016, spurring the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc. to sue. That lawsuit went on for months, resulting in a federal judge first ruling against the party’s bid to be a party and then reversing his decision on appeal a month later. That allowed the libertarians to collect the additional registrants they needed and propelled their contention that Maine’s process for creating a new political party is unconstitutionally rigid.

Being an official political party in Maine affords candidates from that party a much easier path to the ballot, setting up a simple registration system in place of a more formidable petition-based system. The party’s efforts are not over. It has to sent at least 10,000 registered Libertarians to the polls in November 2018, according to new legislation enacted this year.

Lyons, who is a contractor by trade, ran a write-in campaign against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in 2014. He has yet to file for his 2018 candidacy against King with the Federal Election Commission but has already launched a series of campaign events. He said he is in the race to win it and that converting independents or voters enrolled in major parties is easy.

“One thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is that it isn’t so much that people become a Libertarian,” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “They simply realize they are one. I’ve heard this time and time again.”

Kresge, a senior software developer for RKL eSolutions LLD of Pennsylvania and Army veteran, said his priority as a candidate and congressman is to advocate for “smaller, more effective government,” which is at the core of the Libertarian ideology. Kresge also has not filed yet with the Federal Election Commission.

“The Libertarian Party is here and is serious about representing your interests,” Kresge said in a written statement on Wednesday.

The candidate lineups against King and Poliquin are still developing. So far, only Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey has jumped into the race against King.

This item was originally published in Daily Brief, a free political newsletter distributed Monday through Friday by the Bangor Daily News to inform dialogue about Maine politics and government. To read more of today’s Daily Brief, click here. To have the Daily Brief delivered daily to your inbox, click here.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.