BREAKING: The Maine Wire has received word that Rep. Alex Willette (R-Mapelton), Assistant Minority Leader, will be dropping out of the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
The announcement is expected to come at 5:30 PM Wednesday evening.
The announcement that Willette, who was the first to officially enter the race, plans to withdraw will likely clear the way for declared candidates Blaine Richardson and former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. The announcement will also free up the libertarian Defense of Liberty PAC to align with another candidate.
The Defense of Liberty PAC, chaired by GOP senate candidate (and dancer/actor) Eric Brakey, had initially aligned with the fairly young Willette, who would have just barely met the requirement of the U.S. Constitution that elected members of the House of Representatives be at least 25 years of age.
Given the strong libertarian bent of the PAC, it is quite likely that Brakey’s group will now shift their support to Richardson, who balks at being called a conservative in favor of the libertarian brand and philosophy.
While this is good news for the Richardson camp, Poliquin’s team is also likely to be excited as well. Conservative insiders throughout the summer had feared a messy GOP primary, wherein the conservatives split the far right vote and allow a more moderate candidate to walk away with the nomination. Although neither former State Sen. Richard Rosen of Orrington nor former Republican Senate President Kevin Raye of Eastport have officially declared their candidacies, political watchers suspect that the pair of Republicans, who are regarded as moderates, will enter the race soon.
Former Republican Minority Leader-turned lobbyist Josh Tardy confirmed earlier this week that he will not seek his party’s nomination.
As for the Democratic primary, state Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot), Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), and Navy reservist Alden Smith are the only official candidates.
No word yet on who, if anyone, Willette may endorse.
This story will be updated.
UPDATE: According to the Washington, DC-based Daily Caller, which earlier published a story saying Willette was considering dropping out, the soon-to-be-former candidate has said he was “considering” withdrawing from the race due to health reasons. According to TheDC.com, “A source involved in Maine Republican politics said that Willette was suffering from migraines that made him temporarily blind, and that those had prompted him to consider withdrawing.”