The Republican Party swept the 2016 races and is now gearing up to fortify their majorities. A number of targets in both chambers have been identified. One is Independent Senator Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats. He is up for reelection in Maine, but has no credible challenger to this point.
What about outgoing Governor Paul LePage? He will be termed out of office and has yet to announce political plans for the future. Although he was long speculated to be preparing for a run, he ultimately decided against it. This hasn’t stopped political allies and fans from urging him to reconsider.
Steve Bannon has reportedly been involved with the Maine race, but instead urging Governor LePage’s wife Ann to run for office. She would be a much less divisive option for the Senate, should her husband continue to refuse. There is no indication that Mrs. LePage is considering, however. This has left Maine conservatives listless without a serious champion.
Now President Donald Trump is reportedly checking out the race. White House advisers claim that the President plans to reach out to Gov. LePage, urging him to run and offering his endorsement. If this proves true, it could be an enormous game changer.
Gov. LePage, who was a close ally during the general election, shares a number of parallels with President Trump. Both men have a background in business and aren’t career politicians. When they ran for their respective executive positions, they were widely considered political outsiders and long-shots.
Having Governor LePage in the United States Senate would work in more ways than one for the Trump Administration’s agenda. Not only would it give the President a reliable ally going forward, it would also weaken the numbers of the opposition. LePage also espouses a naturally Trumpian brand of politics that gets on the nerves of elitists.
Will it work?
The involvement of Steve Bannon and President Trump shows the importance of the Maine Senate race. The problem is that Senator Angus King won’t be an easy candidate to defeat. He has yet to lose an election, running for Senate and twice for Governor, all as an Independent. It’s no easy feat running without a party, but he’s enjoyed strong popularity in eschewing partisan labels.
Gov. LePage has overcome the odds in both races for Governor, first defeating then-Senate President Libby Mitchell and later beating former Congressman Mike Michaud. Democrats invested heavily against him and still failed to stop him.
But will the Governor reconsider?
It’s been a long two terms for Gov. LePage and given the backlashes he has received, it’s undoubtedly hard on his family. But being in the Senate would be different, as he’s not the executive at the center of everything. Instead, he would be joining fellow Trump Administration allies like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in pushing a cohesive agenda together. While Gov. LePage would likely still draw headlines for his bombastic statements, it wouldn’t be nearly as fierce or nasty as what he’s faced from the liberal Maine media over the last several years.
Many conservatives and libertarians agree that Angus King needs to go, but that is easier said than done. If President Trump can successfully convince Gov. LePage to enter the race, he could be the credible opponent Senator King desperately needs.