PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The 2016 elections are history, And even as the dust starts to settle, political junkies and strategists are already wondering about 2018 -- the next election. Maine will elect a new Governor in two years, and while it may be annoyingly early to raise the issue, speculation is starting about who is likely to run.
NEWS CENTER political insiders Phil Harriman and John Richardson say those seriously considering running for Governor are already starting to talk to close supporters to lay the foundation for beginning a campaign.
Several top Democrats have admitted they are at least considering entering the race: Former Congressional candidate Adam Cote of Biddeford and well-known car dealer Adam lee both told NEWS CENTER’S Don Carrigan they are thinking of running. Attorney General Janet Mills said people have talked to her about running, but she hasn’t decided yet. Outgoing Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Sen. Justin Alfond have both indicated in the past they are interested in running for Governor.
On the Republican side, the prime speculation has been centered on U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. A number of Republicans have said Collins is very popular with voters and would be hard to beat if she ran for Governor. Collins herself had generally avoided the question. Her spokesperson said on Wednesday that “it was too early to speculate” on whether she would run in 2018.
As for other potential GOP candidates, party chairman Rick Bennett has told NEWS CENTER he might become a candidate but hasn’t decided. A number of party members have mentioned the possibility of DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and Second District Congressman Bruce Poliquin running for Governor. Neither has commented publicly on the possibility.
NEWS CENTER Democratic analyst John Richardson said Wednesday he expects a party “outside” to enter the race, most likely a progressive from the Bernie Sanders camp.
“ I think someone could come out of having supported Bernie Sanders,” said Richardson, “someone who has not been involved in politics and has experience creating jobs, especially in the Second District.”
As for independents, Harriman mentioned Sean Moody, who won 5% of the gubernatorial vote in the 5-way 2010 race. Moody said on Wednesday that he had not been thinking about the 2018 campaign because it's still two years away, but also said he “had not lost his passion” for dealing with issues facing Maine.
And while the election is two years in the future, both Harriman and Richardson said potential candidates for a statewide race need to start planning soon. And they said there may well be others considering joining the race to be the next governor.