KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) — Maine’s self-proclaimed ‘‘blue-collar governor,’’ who was elected with tea party support, told supporters emphatically that he’s seeking re-election at a fundraiser Tuesday evening in genteel Kennebunkport.
Gov. Paul LePage, who said last month he might run for Congress, told supporters that he intends to seek a second term as governor, state Sen. Andre Cushing, who attended the event, told news reporters.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined the private event Tuesday at the Nonantum Resort.
Bush, thought to be weighing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is the son of former President George H.W. Bush and the brother of former President George W. Bush. Known for moderate political views, he has expressed hope that the GOP can evolve into the party of ‘‘inclusion and acceptance.’’
But the Democratic National Committee seized on Bush’s support for LePage as an example of how Republican leaders ‘‘remain beholden to the tea party base that continues to call the shots in today’s GOP.’’
‘‘Jeb Bush’s work in support of Paul LePage, one of the most controversial and unpopular governors in the country, proves that the Republican Party didn’t learn from their mistakes in 2012 and have no intention of changing their ways,’’ said Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin.
Bush spokesman Jaryn Emhof said that Bush was inspired to help LePage by their history of working together.
In particular, Emhof said that Bush’s education organization has worked with the LePage administration on a school grading policy that was first used in Florida. ‘‘I know he has a lot of respect for what Gov. LePage is trying to get done in the state,’’ Emhof said, adding that the pair spent time together at a national education conference and have ‘‘a good rapport.’’
The blunt-spoken LePage has come under fire for remarks, including his off-color attack last month. He said a Democratic state lawmaker is ‘‘the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.’’
Last weekend, the governor apologized in his radio address.
‘‘I grew up on the streets, and I'm a blue-collar governor. I'm not a politician, and I tell it like it is,’’ the governor said.
‘‘Some say my language is colorful and refreshing. Others say it is rough and offensive. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. But folks, it is time to wake up. Sometimes the only way I can get your attention is to use straight talk,’’ he said.
The fundraiser was held in the coastal town where Bush’s father has a seaside retreat at Walker’s Point. Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe along with current Sen. Susan Collins were listed as co-hosts of the event along with Linda Bean, former Maine treasurer Bruce Poliquin and businessman Les Otten.
The event was closed to the public and participants were not available to speak to the press, said Brent Littlefield, the governor’s senior political adviser.
A private session and photo opportunity cost $2,000 per person or $3,000 per couple. LePage will report his fundraising totals to election officials later this month.