Ryan Wheaton, a West Gardiner small business owner and teacher, said today he will seek the Republican nomination for the Senate District 21 seat.

Wheaton said he wants to provide a more conservative option to Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, who announced last week that he is running for the GOP nomination. Wheaton, 34, lost in the recent Republican primary for House District 79 to William Guerrette III.

Wheaton said he is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.

“There’s a really good young Republican movement that’s been growing in the state,” Wheaton said. “The younger generation of the Republican Party is finally coming to leadership roles. It’s important for us to have our say in politics.”

Earlier this month, Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, announced he had dropped out of the Senate race. Kennebec County Republicans will meet at 6 p.m. Friday to choose a new Republican nominee to face Democrat David Bustin of Hallowell in the fall race.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. at the Hope Baptist Church in Winthrop. Registered Republicans who live in the 11 towns in the district — Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, West Gardiner, and Winthrop — are eligible to vote to choose a new nominee.

In an e-mail sent last week, Flood, House chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he’s ready to make the switch from the House to the Senate. Flood is prevented from seeking another House term because of term limits.

“Service in the Legislature is a matter of duty and responsibility to me,” he said in an email. “I hope I would be a suitable candidate but that decision rests in the capable hands of the District’s Republican Committee Caucus. I’ll give it my best effort.”

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