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“Join me in thanking your incredible former governor, Paul LePage,” Pence said at a rally in Hermon, Maine.
The vice president then hinted at something most people outside Maine were unaware of – that LePage may be making a comeback.
“I’ll tell you what. He was one of my favorite governors in America, and he just might be again,” Pence said.
FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2018, file photo, Gov. Paul LePage delivers the State of the State address to the Legislature at the State House in Augusta, Maine. In March 2019 the state released a list of the 115 people pardoned by former Gov. LePage following a public records request by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
LePage, the outspoken former governor whose controversial comments continuously made headlines during his eight years steering Maine, has for months been mulling a return to public office.
Term-limited after two four-year terms in office, from 2011 to 2019, LePage moved to Florida last year after being succeeded by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills. In Maine, a governor can serve an unlimited number of terms, but only two in a row.
In February, in an interview with local TV station WAGM, LePage answered yes when asked if he was considering running in 2022 for a third term as governor.
And in an appearance in April on popular conservative talk radio host Howie Carr’s show, LePage declared he would “challenge Janet Mills or the Democratic Party in 2022.”
He moved back to Maine this past summer, reestablishing residency in the state.
LePage didn’t always see eye to eye with GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine during his eight years as governor. But at last month’s rally with Pence, LePage encouraged the crowd to vote for Collins, despite President Trump’s criticism of the moderate Republican senator.
“We need Senator Collins back in Washington,” LePage told the crowd. “I’ve had so many folks tell me ‘Oh, it’s over for her.’ It’s not over for her. We need the Senate to help President Trump run the country.”
Collins, who was fighting for her political life against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, ended up defeating the state House speaker – who was favored to oust the longtime GOP senator.
“LePage was very, very helpful to Sen. Collins. LePage understood the importance of holding the Senate and he was there for the senator in any way and every way that he could be,” Maine GOP executive director Jason Savage told Fox News.
While it’s not an indication of LePage’s intentions, the Maine GOP for more than a year and a half has been selling yard signs with LePage’s photo and the caption “Miss Me Yet?”
Yard signs with a photo of former Gov. Paul LePage and the caption “Miss Me Yet?” that have been available on the Maine GOP’s website for more than a year and a half.
Mills, the first-term Democratic governor, has not indicated whether she’ll run for reelection in 2022. And LePage has kept uncharacteristically quiet in recent months about his intentions. But that will likely end in the new year.
If he follows through and runs for a third term, LePage would likely clear the field on the Republican side.
“Anybody who runs against him in a primary in Maine is absolutely foolish,” said a Maine based Republican consultant who asked for anonymity to speak more freely. “The nomination is his and I can’t imagine that there would be a candidate out there that would even crack 10% against him.”