Democratic Rep. Michael H. Michaud's Thursday announcement that he is exploring a run for governor in Maine could spark crowded primaries for his competitive 2nd District.
Michaud has won that district with comfortable margins for six terms, but his seat could be competitive if he launches a gubernatorial bid. President Barack Obama won it with 53 percent last year.
"This obviously becomes a nationally targeted race if Michaud runs for governor," said Erik Potholm, a Republican consultant who has worked extensively in Maine politics. "For Republicans, it's a tremendous opportunity to pick up a new seat, because the ... rural areas [located in the district] do really well for Republicans."
Local and national Republican operatives rattled off several potential GOP candidates who could run in the 2nd District.
- State Sen. Garrett Mason, who is one of the youngest members in his chamber.
- Assistant state House Minority Leader Alex Willette. At 24 years old, he is the youngest lawmaker to serve in that role.
- State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette. He represents a district located south of Bangor, one of the biggest cities in the 2nd District.
- Former House Minority Leader Josh Tardy. He left the state House due to term limits in 2010, but he has been widely rumored to be running for the seat.
- Former state Sen. Kevin Raye. In 2012, he unsuccessfully challenged Michaud and lost by double digits.
- Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. He finished second in the open GOP primary for Senate last year.
Local and national Democrats mentioned the following as potential candidates:
- Assistant state House Majority Whip Jeff McCabe. Operatives described McCabe as a popular state legislator who has been re-elected in a conservative district.
- State Sen. Emily Cain, whom local Democratic consultants described as "all-in" in the race.
- State Attorney General Janet Mills. Her brother is a Republican who served in the Maine Senate and ran two unsuccessful bids for governor in 2006 and 2010.
- State Sen. Troy Jackson, who represents the more of northern area in the state.
- Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. He attempted to run for the open Senate seat in 2012, but he lost in a primary to state Sen. Cynthia Dill.
- Attorney Joe Baldacci. His brother, John Baldacci, served as governor of Maine for two terms.