AUGUSTA, Maine — Former state Sen. Eric Brakey filed on Monday to run for the seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020, with the Republican saying he’s “99.9 percent there” on committing to a campaign for the Democratic-held seat in a swing district.
Brakey may be the likeliest Republican nominee in the race against U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat who ousted two-term Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin in a 2018 race that was decided by Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system.
It would be a race between two young stars in their parties from the same area. Golden, 37, is a Marine veteran and former legislative leader from Lewiston. Brakey, 30, is a former two-term state senator from Auburn who lost handily to independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018.
Brakey filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission to run against Golden. He has telegraphed a potential campaign since May, when he met with conservative groups in Washington, D.C. He said on Monday that he has raised $100,000 for a prospective campaign, while Golden raised $729,000 by June’s end.
Those filings are often accompanied by campaign rollouts, but Brakey said on Monday that he filed because he “just wanted to get the paperwork in place.” He said in an interview that he is “99.9 percent there” on a run and would decide ahead of a formal announcement in September.
Brakey, who spent much of 2019 stirring opposition to measures pushed by Democrats leading the Legislature, said conservatives who may have been “complacent” under former Republican Gov. Paul LePage have “woken up” under Gov. Janet Mills, his Democratic successor.
“Maine has always been a state where we make our own choices in our own lives, we look after our neighbors, and we don’t like the government telling us how to do things,” he said. “I think that what we’re getting out of government right now is not reflective of the spirit of Maine.”
Brakey is a libertarian-leaning conservative who ran the Maine presidential campaign of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in 2012. During his Senate run, he embraced President Donald Trump and his rhetorical style, releasing an ad saying King wanted to “replace your kids with refugees.”
Golden has been a cautious member of the Democratic caucus, nodding to his Trump-voting district by refusing to join calls to impeach the president. National Republicans have hit him for supporting “Medicare for all,” which he has said should be an end goal for health care reform.
Poliquin has been coy about his plans, and he did not return a call seeking comment Monday. However, Brakey’s steps toward a run may signal that Poliquin is backing off from a 2020 run. Brakey said in May that running is “not something I would do without speaking with him.”