Willette drops out of CD2 congressional race

Maine House Minority Whip Alex Willette, R-Mapleton, has dropped out of the running for the 2nd District Congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

Willette issued his withdrawal statement less than two weeks after Michaud, a Democrat who was considered a nearly invincible incumbent in the 2nd District, officially announced his candidacy for governor:

Now that Congressman Michaud has officially announced his campaign for Governor, Republicans have a great opportunity to send a representative to Congress who will fix Washington and stop the out of control spending.

I want to do what is best for my party and at this time I believe my resources and energy will be better spent helping Republicans win Maine’s 2nd, working to keep the Governor’s mansion and retaking the majority in the legislature. Therefore, I will be suspending my campaign for the 2nd Congressional district as of today.

It’s interesting that Willette was more interested in the much more difficult race against a sitting congressman than against one of his fellow lawmakers. Since Michaud’s gubernatorial intentions became clear, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash and Sen. Emily Cain of Orono have both announced they’d seek the Democratic nod for the CD2 seat. Building contractor Alden Smith of Sangerville has also filed paperwork to run as a Democrat.

Willette’s campaign suspension gives other GOP hopefuls one less fellow Republican to worry about in what could be a fiery primary season. Other Republicans in the running include former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin and libertarian candidate Blaine Richardson.

Several other names have also been floated as potential candidates for Michaud’s seat, including former Senate President Kevin Raye, a Republican who has lost twice to Michaud in CD2 general elections, and fellow Republican former state Sen. Richard Rosen of Bucksport. On the Democrats’ side, Bangor City Council Joe Baldacci, brother of former Gov. John Baldacci, and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap are considered possible candidates.

Willette, 24, was the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy for CD2, way back on July 1. He has not reported any campaign fundraising to the Federal Elections Commission, as the next disclosure deadline is not until Oct. 15.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.