State Sen. Garrett Mason, who was set to launch his bid for the Governor’s Office on Wednesday, canceled the planned event because of the sudden death of his mother, state Rep. Gina Mason.

Mason issued this statement early Wednesday morning:

Gina Mason

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the sudden passing of my beloved mother, Gina.  She was the bedrock of our family and our hearts are broken over this tragic loss.  While I know my mother has returned to Almighty God, at this most difficult time, I ask for your thoughts and prayers.”

Gina Mason was serving her first term as Republican representative for House District 56, which includes Lisbon.

Legislative leaders offered their condolences to the Mason family in a series of statements issued Wednesday.

• Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau, R-Waldo: “We are all deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Representative Gina Mason. Gina was a tireless advocate for the people she represented in Lisbon, serving in local government and at the State House in Augusta. We will fondly remember her disarming approach to solving problems in Augusta and for her extraordinary efforts in organizing the annual Moxie Festival Parade in Lisbon.

“Gina had a close relationship with her entire family. The bond she shared with her son, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, will be sorely missed in Augusta. Stacy and I join the entire Maine Senate family in sending our thoughts and prayers to the Mason family during this difficult time.”

• House Speaker Sara Gideon, D- Freeport: “The entire Maine House of Representatives is grieving today for the loss of our colleague and friend, Gina Mason. Gina was a valued member of the House and a respected public servant. Her presence will be sorely missed by all of us who were lucky enough to have served with her. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gina’s family in this incredibly difficult time.”

• Assistant House Minority Leader, Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Rep. Gina Mason. She was a wonderful mother, a leader and a friend to us all. Our prayers are with the Mason and Crafts family during this difficult time and ask that everyone keep them in their prayers as well.”

• Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D- Allagash: “All of us in the legislative branch mourn the loss of a fellow member of our great institution, but to lose a mother is a personal tragedy.”

• Assistant Minority Leader Nate Libby, D-Lewiston: “I cannot hope to imagine my colleague’s grief, but I offer what I can – my heartfelt condolences and friendship to him and his family.”

Garrett Mason is serving his second term as the Senate’s majority leader and his fourth term in the Senate. He was scheduled to announce his candidacy at 5 p.m. Wednesday in downtown Lewiston.

There was no immediate word on a new date for the event.

Mason, 32, would be the second of three Republicans to join the race. Also in are nine Democratic, two Green Party and one independent candidate vying to succeed Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has served two terms and cannot run again.

Garrett Mason

Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, 52, of Newport was also expected to announce his campaign for the office Wednesday.

Mason’s entry into the race would ensure a June 2018 primary for Republicans. Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China was the first Republican in the race. She announced her bid for the governor’s office in June. Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has said she will decide this fall whether to run for governor.

In the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Mason was among the Maine Republican delegates who backed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz , R-Texas, but who later threw his support to the eventual Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Mason was the co-chairman of Cruz’s campaign in Maine. Republicans selected Cruz over Trump during the party’s caucus voting in March.

Mason, who is a graduate of Calvary Christian Academy in Turner and 2006 graduate of Pensacola Christian College, in Pensacola, Fla., has strong support among Maine’s evangelical community. Prior to his entry to politics, Mason worked in minor league sports in Maine, first for the Portland Sea Dogs organization and then later serving as the director of administration for the now defunct Lewiston Maineiacs, which played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Mason, as the Senate chairman of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee has also been an outspoken opponent of a bid by Shawn Scott and entities connected to Scott and their efforts to pass ballot question in Maine this fall that asks voters to approve the state’s third casino for York County.