Credit: Courtesy of Maine Green Independent Party

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Green candidate from Waldo County is expected to announce his 2020 candidacy for U.S. Senate this week, increasing the likelihood that the nationally targeted race for the seat held by Republican Susan Collins will be decided by ranked-choice voting.

The Maine Green Independent Party said in a Tuesday statement that David Gibson of Morrill will announce his candidacy at a national party meeting in Massachusetts on Friday. Gibson works as a solar design specialist for Liberty-based ReVision Energy and his campaign website includes goals of 100 percent clean energy by 2030 and halving the U.S. defense budget.

It’s unclear if Gibson will be able to get on the ballot in 2020. The Maine Green party dates back to 1984, making it the oldest one in the U.S., but it has receded during this decade and hasn’t nominated a candidate for statewide office since Pat LaMarche in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

To get on the ballot for Maine’s June primaries, party candidates must submit at least 2,000 signatures from members of their party by mid-March of 2020, which requires a basic level of organization because they can’t begin collecting those signatures until Jan. 1.

National Democrats are prioritizing Collins’ seat after her October vote for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Five Democrats are running so far, including House Speaker Sara Gideon of Freeport, who is backed by Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, and lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell, who has been endorsed by some national progressive groups.

Three other Democrats — Saco lawyer Bre Kidman, Jonathan Treacy, a retired Air Force major general from Oxford and travel agent Michael Bunker of Bangor — have also filed to run. They may be longer shots for the ballot alongside independent Danielle VanHelsing of Sangerville, but if three or more candidates qualify for the ballot, the race will be decided by Maine’s first-in-the-nation statewide system of ranked-choice voting.

If no candidate wins a majority of first choices, the race will come down to later choices from supporters of the first candidates to be eliminated. In 2018, that erased a first-round edge for then-U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, and gave the seat to Democrat Jared Golden.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...