State Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, the assistant minority leader of the Maine House of Representatives, announced Wednesday she would run for the state Senate in 2018.

Espling, who represents House District 65, will seek to replace Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Angus King, an independent, in 2018.

Brakey represents Senate District 20, which includes New Gloucester, Minot, Mechanic Falls, Poland and Auburn. Espling is serving in her fourth term in the Maine House and because of term limits cannot seek a fifth term.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of New Gloucester and Poland in the legislature and I look forward to continuing to serve my surrounding community in the State Senate,” Espling said in a prepared statement.

Espling picked up immediate endorsements Wednesday from Brakey, Republican Gov. Paul LePage and outgoing Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte, who works as LePage’s directory of policy management.

“She has shown outstanding leadership in the House for the past 8 years, and I know she will represent her district very well in the Senate,” LePage said in a prepared statement.

LaBonte said he would be taking a role in helping Espling with her Senate campaign.

State Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn, has also announced he intends to run for Brakey’s seat. So far, no other candidates have announced a bid for the seat.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, announced he would run for the state Senate District 22 seat in 2018. The seat is being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, who cannot seek another term because of term limits. Mason is among a number of Republican candidates who have announced they will seek their party’s nomination to be its 2018 candidate for governor.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

[email protected]

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