Republican Shawn Moody dominated his party's gubernatorial primary last night, taking 56 percent of the vote, soundly besting his GOP competitors and apparently averting any further vote counting under the state's new ranked-choice voting law.
The mood at Moody's Gorham headquarters stayed buoyant through the evening, as results came in showing a consistently commanding lead. At 11 p.m., just in time for the late television news, he took the podium for a quick shoutout to his supporters.
“We're feeling very positive, optimistic, and I think Mainers have spoken...they want a business person, they want someone with a fresh set of eyes, and they don't want to turn Augusta back over to the politicians," Moody told the crowd.
The founder of a successful auto body repair chain that is now owned by its employees, Moody says he wants to foster an economy that will enable young Mainers to realize their potentiall.
“There's so many young people out there with the same talent, the same dreams, and the same opportunities that I had. And we got to make sure we create the same pathways or them to go on and be successful, stay here in Maine, and build a future,” he said.
His closest competitor in the four-way showdown, state senator Garret Mason, told supporters at his Lisbon headquarters that they gave it their all. "All I wanted out of this campaign at the end was, I wanted to know that we did everything that we possible could, and we did,” Mason said.
The other two candidates in the race, former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew and House GOP leader Ken Fredette, have both been close allies of Governor Paul LePage.
But it's Moody who seems to have inherited the governor's image as an outsider who won't stand for “politics-as-usual.” It's a profile that still resonates for Moody supporter Rick Davis.
“He's not a politician, he's a businessman, he came up the hard way, and that's what I believe in,” said Davis.
Campaign consultant Brent Littlefield says the solidity of Moody's support in every county demonstrates he'll be formidable in November's general election as well.
"We certainly heard from across the state, very large numbers of independents, which is obviously not surprising, and Democrats, blue collar Democrats that really like Shawn Moody,” said Littlefield.
Littlefield is just one of the graduates of LePage's political operation, along with daughter Lauren LePage, who have both gravitated to the Moody campaign. It's clear they think they've picked a winner again.
This story was originally published June 13, 2018 at 6:12 a.m. ET.