MAINE, USA — Editor's Note: The video above aired in April 2021.
Former Gov. Paul LePage’s rumored run to unseat Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in the 2022 gubernatorial race was solidified Thursday after he filed his candidate registration with the state.
Despite seemingly announcing his run for governor to various radio and TV news reporters over the past year, LePage has not formally announced his campaign. LePage, who was governor from 2011 to 2019, told NEWS CENTER Maine last year he would wait until after the 2020 general election to announce his formal decision, but nearly eight months later, and that has yet to happen. However, on Thursday, a countdown appeared on his new website, hinting at an announcement in the coming days.
The paperwork makes that anticipated announcement certain.
"Exciting news to share soon," LePage wrote in a Facebook post Thursday.
LePage had moved to Florida to enjoy warm weather and lower taxes after leaving office, but in July of 2020 reestablished his residency in Maine, following through on his vow to return to the state where he was born. LePage, 72, now lives in Edgecomb.
Mills was elected in 2018, becoming Maine’s first female governor. Her time as governor has been largely dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic hardships. When Mills began fundraising her for reelection campaign in March, she touted her leadership and Maine’s success through the pandemic.
“We have been through a lot, but I still believe the best chapter in our state’s history has yet to be written, and I want to write it with you,” Mills said in one of her first fundraising emails. “Thank you for always being a part of my team, and standing by my side.”
LePage and Maine Republicans have been vocal in their criticism of Mills and her response to the pandemic. In 2020, LePage told a radio talk show that Mills “ought to resign” over her plan for reopening the state’s economy.
During a meeting with now-former President Donald Trump and Maine fishing industry leaders last summer, talks shifted from fishing to Mills when LePage brought up her handling of the reopening the state amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"You have a governor that doesn't know what she's doing, and she's like a dictator," Trump said.
Republican Governors Association spokesman Will Reinert said in a statement Thursday he's, "confident voters will reject four more years of her failed agenda and instead elect a governor who has a record of moving Maine forward."
Maine's gubernatorial election is slated for Nov. 8, 2022.
LePage’s campaign manager, Brent Littlefield, said they would not be making any comment until the countdown runs out in four days.
The Maine GOP, Maine Democratic Party, and Mills’ campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.