AP NEWS

Ex-LePage spokeswoman enters Maine congressional race

October 8, 2019
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FILE — In this Wednesday, June 8, 2016 file photo Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for Maine Gov. Paul LePage, holds a microphone during a town hall meeting, in Augusta, Maine. Bennett formally announced her GOP candidacy for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal via AP, File)
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FILE — In this Wednesday, June 8, 2016 file photo Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for Maine Gov. Paul LePage, holds a microphone during a town hall meeting, in Augusta, Maine. Bennett formally announced her GOP candidacy for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal via AP, File)

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, formally announced her candidacy Tuesday for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Bennett’s entry into the race means former state Sen. Eric Brakey will have at least one challenger seeking the GOP nomination to run against first-term Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. A third potential GOP candidate, former state Rep. Dale Crafts, plans a campaign kickoff on Thursday.

The 2nd District seat is currently held by Golden, who defeated GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2018 in Maine’s first congressional election decided by ranked-choice voting.

Bennett, a 40-year-old real estate agent, said she grew up poor and developed a strong work ethic that propelled her through a career in TV news, then public service with LePage.

She highlighted her support of President Donald Trump, which she said dated back to when she helped organize his first 2016 appearance in Maine. She also said she sought out advice from the bombastic LePage, who boasted he was “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular.”

Brakey got his start running libertarian Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. He initially supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul’s son, in 2016, but he supported Trump when he won his party’s nomination.

Bennett is a Waldo County native who works for a Falmouth real estate company and owns a condo in Portland; she was living in southern Maine before registering to vote in Bangor this fall.

Brakey, for his part, will have the support of conservatives because of his legislative votes on health care, gun owner rights and welfare reform, and his early endorsements from Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, said campaign spokesman David Boyer.