In a phone interview, Thibodeau declined to say if or when he will announce his candidacy but said he was considering.
“My number one priority is to fulfil my duty as Senate Republican leader,” he said.
Thibodeau’s entry would make the Republican primary a four-way race. Former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, former Senate President Kevin Raye and Blaine Richardson are also Republicans running to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Rep. Michael Michaud.
The news that Thibodeau is expected to enter the race follows a release of an extensive list of endorsements from both Poliquin and Raye. In addition to garnering endorsements from many well-known Republicans in northern Maine, the Poliquin and Raye campaigns combined have raised more than $400,000 from Republican donors.
But Thibodeau said he doesn’t foresee a problem getting support should he choose to run. “Both of those endorsement lists have people who based their decision on the current field,” he said, suggesting that many of those endorsees could jump ship.
One endorsement that’s still up for grabs is that of Richard Rosen, a former Republican lawmaker and current director of the Office of Policy and Management. Rosen was himself contemplating running for Congress but said over the weekend he does no longer intends to run. Rosen said in an email that he will make his endorsement “when the field is set,” adding further evidence that the GOP primary dynamic is about to change.
Thibodeau, who established himself as a strong conservative while leading the senate Republicans, will join Richardson and Poliquin on the conservative side of the primary pool.
One GOP insider speculated that Thibodeau entering the race would be welcome news for the Raye, who is viewed as the moderate Republican in the race.
“If conservatives divide themselves between the three conservative candidates, then a more moderate candidate like Raye could easily win the primary with 30 to 35 percent of the vote,” the source said.
This story will be updated
Maine Wire Reporter