ground game

Paul LePage won’t run for Senate in 2018

Maine Governor Paul LePage.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Maine Governor Paul LePage.

The midterm elections will define and shape the Trump presidency, but with Maine Governor Paul LePage's late Wednesday announcement that he will not run for US Senate, it appears that New England won’t play a decisive role.

In a statement, LePage’s top political consultant, Brent Littlefield said that the governor “will remain focused on the job at hand and not enter the United States Senate race in 2018."

Maine was one of the few states in New England that could have had a major Senate election in 2018. So far, Maine Republicans have only a young state senator preparing to challenge US Senator Angus King, an independent. Given that King caucuses with Democrats, he is unlikely to face a competitive Democratic challenger.


Elsewhere in New England, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the reelection bids of Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, and Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse as safe bets for Democrats -- at least for now. Likewise, in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren’s race might be the most expensive in the area, but it may only determine the size of her victory margin. 

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For the House, US House Representative Bruce Poliquin, a Maine Republican, could have a competitive race, although he's already raised a lot of money that could dissuade potential challengers. Even if Democrats do win his seat, they will need to win 23 others around the country to take back the majority.

In New Hampshire, the state in the region with the most competitive races in the last decade, there doesn't appear to be much political excitement. There isn't a Senate race on the 2018 ballot, and both House seats are held by Democrats. The Cook Political Report suggests both incumbents have an advantage at the moment.

This midterm election, like those before it, will likely be shaped by the popularity of the incumbent president. But how that will manifest in New England? It might be hard to tell in 2018. 

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp