Maine State Senator Plans to Quit GOP if Tea Party Challenges Him

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 01:37 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A Republican state senator from Maine is threatening to quit the GOP if tea party Republicans come up with a candidate to challenge him in a primary, Bangor Daily News columnist Ethan Strimling reports.

Sources told Strimling that Sen. Tom Saviello, who represents the Pine Tree State's District 18, will leave the Republican Party if tea party favorite John Frary, a retired history professor and member of Maine Taxpayers United, joins the race.

"The back story on this move is that Republicans are angry with Saviello for being a moderate in their increasingly conservative party. In particular, they are annoyed that he has voted to expand healthcare and to override a number of [Republican Gov. Paul] LePage vetoes," Strimling writes.

"To that end, apparently longtime tea party and right wing Republican activist Mary Adams has been working hard to get someone to run against him."

Pushing Saviello out of the party, Strimling believes, would "virtually guarantee" the GOP loses the seat.

"Pushing Saviello out of the Republican Party and jeopardizing what little chance the party already had to win the majority is not a good strategy," Strimling says. "But it is clearly reflective of an increasingly intolerant Republican Party."

Contacted by the News, Saviello would say only: "I’m just keeping all of my options open. Whatever happens, happens. That’s all I’m going to say about it."

Frary, 73, who ran unsuccessfully for the Second Congressional District seat now occupied by Democrat Mike Michaud, is known as an outspoken political maverick.

In a recent blog post, Frary criticized the election of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying:

"Progressives welcome this hopeful harbinger of liberal revival, while observers in full possession of their mental faculties wonder how a secular preacher with two years  managerial experience will direct a workforce of 300,000 with a budget of $70 billion."

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