Adrienne Bennett, former press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage, met Tuesday for breakfast with state Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn, to talk about her possible candidacy for the 2nd District U.S. House seat held by Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston. Steve Collins/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Adrienne Bennett, the former press secretary for then-Gov. Paul LePage, is almost certainly planning to run for Maine’s 2nd District U.S. House seat.

Bennett said Tuesday she’s been meeting with Republicans across the sprawling district for weeks and has made a decision about whether to jump into the race against first-term Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston.

She said she plans to announce her choice within a few weeks, but sounded like somebody who’s already in the running.

As a candidate, Bennett said she would meet with voters, listen to their concerns “and go out and answer their questions and be real.”

Over breakfast at Simones’ Hot Dog Stand, Bennett chatted with state Rep. Bruce Bickford, an Auburn Republican.

“If she runs, she will have my full support,” Bickford said.

His district is within the confines of the state Senate district held from 2014 to 2018 by Republican Eric Brakey, who formally declared his intention to challenge Golden Tuesday afternoon at Rolly’s Diner in Auburn. Last month, Bickford was listed as one of 31 legislators who had endorsed Brakey.

If Bennett gets into the race, it would set up a June primary between her, Brakey and any other GOP contenders who opt to join the fray.

Brakey said he was excited when he first heard Bennett, who lives near Portland, planned to run for Congress — against 1st District Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

“That would be an excellent thing for her to do,” Brakey said.

LePage said during a radio interview recently that Golden “better be ready because he’s going to have one hell of a battle” against a significant challenger, whom he did not name.

The ex-governor added that a Republican primary was likely and that Golden is going to be in trouble.

“Ranked choice isn’t going to help him this time,” LePage said.

Golden captured the 2nd District seat in 2018 by narrowly defeating former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the country’s first ranked-choice voting election for federal office. Poliquin said this summer he would sit out the 2020 race because he wants to spend time helping his elderly parents.

Bennett has been gearing up for a possible run ever since.

She said she has talked to a wide variety of people, including many legislators, to hear their thoughts on Golden and her possible candidacy.

“It’s been overwhelmingly supportive,” she said.

Bennett is a Realtor who also worked briefly during the final months of the LePage administration as director of policy and legislative affairs for the Maine Department of Labor. Before LePage hired her, she worked in Bangor media, including a long stint as a television reporter at WABI, an experience she said brought her in touch with thousands of people as she told their stories.

Bennett said she’s eager to find out “what’s important at the breakfast table” by listening to what voters and officials tell her, from fishing regulations to reviving old mill towns. Issues like the nursing home shortage in Washington County, she said, need to be addressed.

Bickford said that listening to constituents is key.

“It’s not up to politicians to preach to the citizens how they should think,” he said.

Bennett said she’s had a lot of opportunities to share peoples’ stories.

Now it’s time to do it on an even broader scale, she said.

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