The possibility of Governor Paul LePage challenging Senator Angus King for United States Senate is active again. After previously announcing he would not seek the United States Senate seat, LePage has resurrected talks by suggesting he may be leaning in a different direction now.
Will LePage change his mind about running, or will he hold firm to his previous decision? Perhaps one should ask if he even should run.
There is a popular belief in Maine that King is untouchable with an overwhelming popularity that cannot be matched. Essentially, according to common thought, LePage wouldn’t stand a chance.
But is this really the case?
It is true that LePage won his first term due to a three way split, but this is also true of King. In 1994, King won 35.37% of the vote with a total count of 180,829. This barely edged out Democrat Joseph Brennan by 7,878 votes while Green candidate Jonathan Carter took 32,695 votes.
King did win the Blaine House due to a vote split involving third party candidates, just as many criticize LePage for.
Comparing the 1994 gubernatorial race to 2010, LePage won 218,065 total votes. That topped King’s first term score by 37,236 votes.
When seeking the second term, King won with 246,772 votes. In 2014, LePage won with 294,533 votes. That’s a 47,761 vote difference.
Angus King has an interesting role in Maine politics. He is adored by many for his reputation as an independent, thus being seeing as politically above the partisan fray. The popular mainstream legend may not be enough to save him though, should LePage run.
Maine has moved in a more conservative direction since the 2010 tea party wave that saw the rise of LePage himself. Maine now has a Republican Congressman in the second district, a seat that was long held by Mike Michaud. Michaud’s electoral success in Congress couldn’t save him from losing later to LePage in a race for the Blaine House.
Most recently in 2016, Maine split it’s electoral vote for the first time with Donald Trump winning one. This was the first time a Republican won any electoral votes in Maine since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Republicans stand a chance in defeating King, but need a serious candidate to unseat him. While Brakey boasts a reputation within the libertarian movement for his Ron Paul connections and has put up impressive fundraising numbers in his state legislative races, he lags far behind King.
A serious candidate in a federal race would need to be someone who is widely known and has an established presence across the state. LePage has put up better numbers for the Blaine House than King and has established a strong base devoted to his message. This reflects a popularity that matches King and may even be competitive with him.
Many within the political mainstream may deny the idea that LePage even stands a chance, but the facts suggest that King may have a serious challenger in the Governor, should he change his mind and decide to run.