Ex-Maine governor to launch comeback bid

Ex-Maine governor to launch comeback bid
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Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who once described himself as a political forerunner to former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE, plans to formally announce his bid for a third term on Wednesday, four years after leaving the governorship.

LePage will make his announcement at a rally at the Augusta Civic Center, just over a year ahead of an election that would pit him against his successor, Gov. Janet MillsJanet MillsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — FDA moves to sell hearing aids over-the-counter Supreme Court won't block vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers MORE (D).

During two terms as governor, LePage feuded constantly with the state legislature, including members of his own party, and with the media. He became an early Trump backer and even racked up a pricey bill at Trump hotels during his final two years in office.

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“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” he once told a conservative radio host.

Now, as he attempts a rare comeback bid, LePage will contrast his approach to governing with Democrats who control Washington.

“Maine faces several challenges and we must work toward building a better future based on individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, and an economy which empowers everyone including our rural communities,” he said in a statement as he filed papers to run. “We simply cannot continue to look to Washington, D.C. for bailouts, subsidies or leadership.”

His bombastic personality seemed to clash with Maine’s genteel politics, though he won office by the slimmest of margins. In 2010, he captured just 38 percent of the vote, only 10,000 votes ahead of an independent candidate and well ahead of the Democratic nominee whose campaign sputtered in the closing weeks.

Four years later, LePage won reelection with 48 percent of the vote, about 29,000 votes ahead of then-Rep. Mike MichaudMichael (Mike) Herman MichaudEx-Maine governor to launch comeback bid Record number of LGBT candidates running for governor What to watch in Tuesday’s primary elections MORE (D). The same independent candidate took 8 percent in that year’s contest.

Just before leaving office, LePage said he would decamp to Florida for tax purposes, though he returned to Maine to take a summer job bartending at a restaurant in Boothbay Harbor.

During his time in office, LePage also battled with Mills, then the state’s attorney general. Mills ran as a more pragmatic return to civil politics in 2018 — a foreshadow, in some ways, of the contrast between Trump and President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE two years later — and won with 51 percent of the vote, ahead of a Republican who took 43 percent.

Maine is a generally Democratic-leaning state that has elected its share of moderate Republicans in recent years. LePage was the first Republican to win the governor’s mansion since John McKernan left office in 1995, though Maine has been represented by at least one Republican senator since William Cohen won election in 1978.

At a presidential level, Democrats have won Maine’s popular vote in every election following 1988, when President George H.W. Bush — who retired to his home in Kennebunkport after leaving politics — carried the state. But Maine’s unique system of awarding its electoral votes by congressional district meant that Trump earned one of its four votes in both 2016 and 2020, when he carried the more rural northern Second District.