Rand Paul's Maine Man

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) issued an endorsement last week in a state senate race in Maine of all places. What does this mean about his plans for 2016?

Brakey for Maine Senate/Facebook

Rand Paul must be hoping that the old saw “as Maine goes so goes the nation” is more successful for him than it was for Alf Landon. The Kentucky senator and 2016 presidential hopeful has issued an unusual endorsement in a state legislative race in Maine, a state where local politics rarely draws much attention from national contenders.

Last week, Paul backed Eric Brakey, the 24-year-old presumptive GOP nominee for a swing state senate district wrapping around the old mill town of Lewiston in the southern part of the Pine Tree State. Brakey is a prominent libertarian activist in Maine who was the state director for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential bid and one of the Paul supporters stripped of his seat during the hullabaloo at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Brakey was giddy about the endorsement. He said that it “carries a lot of weight with a lot of people here in Maine. Maine has very much of an independent spirit and it can go a long way in helping.” He added that he was “honored just to get the endorsement.”

The young libertarian thought his chances at winning the Democratic held seat were improved with both arch-conservative Gov. Paul LePage and moderate Sen. Susan Collins on the ballot, each of whom would draw out different wings of the GOP. Brakey said he had “commonalities with both of them” and noted he and LePage thought alike on economic issues and welfare reform. However he hesitated when asked about similarities with Collins. “Um, jeez putting me on the spot here” he said with his voice trailing off. “I know some things I appreciate that she’s done.” After a brief pause, Brakey praised her co-sponsorship of a bill to audit the Federal Reserve as well as her opposition to using military force in Syria and vote against the farm bill.

Although Brakey described Paul as “a likely presidential candidate” in his press release announcing the endorsement, the state senate hopeful admitted that he didn’t have any inside info on the Kentucky senator’s plans for 2016. “I think I just know what we read in the news” said Brakey. I did talk to him when he was in Bangor and said the same stuff I heard everywhere else, if his family goes along . . . . it’s an if proposition”

Brakey was cautiously optimistic about his chances in November. He noted that his campaign, which accepts donations in Bitcoin, was the top fundraising campaign in the state so far in 2014 and the Maine State Senate was designated one of the legislative chambers most likely to flip parties by the Wall Street Journal.

However, he may face some scrutiny for past statements where he proclaimed his angst that the dollar was “fiat currency backed by nothing” as well for an appearance in a red Speedo in a television ad for coconut water when he pursued an acting career in New York.

But, regardless of what happens in November, as the lone GOP candidate in a swing seat in a surprisingly purplish state for the Northeast, Brakey has already won. As he looked back at the conflict over the Maine’s delegates at the 2012 RNC, Brakey pointed out, “in many ways regardless of the outcome of convention and presidential preference, we did win the spiritual race. The party here in our state has become a lot more accepting of its libertarian wing.” And, with enough spiritual wins like this across the country (along with some actual wins at the ballot box as well), Rand Paul will be primed for success in 2016.