AUGUSTA — Maine’s assistant House Republican leader will run for a state Senate seat now held by a candidate who is challenging independent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

A spokesman says Rep. Ellie Espling will run to represent Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey’s district in 2018. Espling is serving her fourth House term and cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Republican Rep. Bruce Bickford is now running for re-election after considering a run for Brakey’s seat.

House Republican spokesman Rob Poindexter said Bickford and Espling agreed the best option would be for Epsling to run, instead.

Poindexter said Espling has received Brakey’s and Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s endorsements. Brakey plans to challenge King in 2018.

The 151-member Maine House has 74 Democrats, 70 Republicans and seven independent and third-party lawmakers.

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