Former Maine Gov. LePage to challenge Mills in 2022
LePage, 72, served two terms as Maine's governor from 2011 to 2019 and is mounting a comeback.
Firebrand Republican Paul LePage is seeking a return to the governor's office with a challenge to incumbent Gov. Janet Mills in next year's election.
LePage, 72, who served two terms as Maine's governor from 2011 to 2019, announced Monday he will be seeking the GOP's nomination to challenge the Democrat in 2020.
"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," LePage said in a release. "We simply cannot continue to look to Washington, DC for bailouts, subsidies or leadership."
LePage moved to Florida after leaving office but recently returned to the state and reestablished his residency. He filed paperwork on Friday to run for the governor's office.
Mills defeated six opponents in a 2018 Democratic primary race and then won a three-way general election with 51% to become the first woman elected to the governor's office.
The former prosecutor and attorney general ran on a platform of overturning many of LePage's executive actions on climate change, welfare and health care, often tying the Republican's policies as governor to then-President Donald Trump.
In response to LePage's announcement, Mills' campaign issued a statement touting her efforts to expand health care education and broadband Internet access as well as providing property tax relief and clean energy jobs, "all while leading Maine through a global pandemic with near best-in-the-nation results."
"Gov. Mills has delivered for Maine people time and again, and she is just getting started," the campaign said. " As we put this pandemic behind us, she will continue her fight for all Maine people and for a welcoming, stronger, more prosperous state."
Mills hasn't formally launched her reelection campaign but resumed her fundraising in March, vowing to continue with her record of accomplishments over the past three years.
LePage was known for his bombastic rhetoric and policies as governor, at one point telling reporters that he was "Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular." He fended off a failed impeachment effort by Democrats when he was in office.
Since stepping down, LePage has been critical of many of Mills' decisions, issuing a statement last year saying the Democrat should be "removed from office" over her reopening plans.
Outside groups are expected to spend heavily on the gubernatorial race as they did in the 2018 election, when Mills benefited from a massive influx of money from liberal groups.
Republicans view the race as an opportunity to win a governor's office as they plot a strategy to regain Congress and downballot races in next year's midterm elections.