A state senator and former state director for Ron Paul's anti-establishment presidential candidacy and a rising star within the Maine Republican Party may issue a challenge to U.S. Senator Angus King when his seat comes up for re-election in the 2018 midterms.
State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) recently declined to comment on Maine's 2018 Senate race, but according to the Bangor Daily News, a Republican source says Brakey is "gearing up to declare for the race shortly after the New Year."
He'll have an uphill battle against Maine's popular independent senator, a former two-term governor of Maine (he had no party affiliation then either) who won moderate Republican Olympia Snowe's vacated Senate seat against five other contenders in 2012.
In September, a Morning Consult survey found King sporting a 63% approval rating in his state, where he's already won statewide election three times and enjoys high name recognition. Before his two terms as governor, he was a TV show host for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for 18 years.
Still, Brakey may be able to mount a serious challenge with the support of the Republican Party establishment and that of Ron Paul Republicans, who have made major inroads into the Maine GOP over the last few years.
Half of Maine's delegates to the Republican National Convention in 2012 walked out over rule changes that put Ron Paul at a disadvantage.
After working as the state director for Ron Paul's presidential primary campaign, Brakey chaired U.S. Senator Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign in his state.
That's after defeating a Democratic incumbent himself in 2014 to become a state senator representing Auburn. He handily won re-election in November after helping pass a bill to repeal Maine's concealed handgun permit requirement.
Brakey has proven to be a strong fundraiser along the way, raising $59,000 for his first state Senate campaign and $56,000 for his second.
That could be a problem for King, who raised less than any other U.S. senator elected in 2012, especially with Brakey's potential for national fundraising from Ron Paul Republicans, who are known nationally to pour in donations to candidates they favor in online "money bomb" fundraisers.
Rare.us Editor Jack Hunter, who helped Rand Paul get elected to the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and co-wrote his 2011 book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington," took to Facebook this week to say, "My friend Senator Eric Brakey might run for U.S. Senate!" adding, "He would make a great tag team partner for Rand Paul."
One commenter, who lives in Texas, responded, "I'd love to see Eric in the US Senate." Another, who lives in Pennsylvania, replied, "Im ready to donate, good luck Eric!" And another, among many supportive comments, added, "Start building support."
Photo Credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN