Gov. Paul LePage delivers his final State of the State address before a joint session of the Maine Legislature in Augusta in 2018.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Gov. Paul LePage hinted there would be a Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020, saying in a Thursday radio interview that U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat, should be ready for “one hell of a battle.”

LePage, a Republican, was tightlipped on who would join the race against Golden, but they would have to go through former state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, who is the only Republican to file for the 2020 race in the swing district covering Maine’s northern population half.

Golden won the seat in 2018 by defeating former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the first general election race decided by Maine’s ranked-choice system, which was unsuccessfully challenged in federal court by Poliquin, a Republican who has said he would not run for office in 2020.

Besides him and Brakey, no Republican has publicly mulled a 2nd District run, but LePage stoked speculation on Thursday in an interview with Legacy 1160 WSKW. He said Golden “may not know it, but boy, he better be ready because he’s going to have one hell of a battle.”

“I’m going to let them announce it, but there’s some significant candidates,” LePage said. “There’s likely to be a primary, but there’s significant candidates, and I think Golden — ranked-choice isn’t going to help him.”

It’s unclear who LePage is talking about. Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills told the Bangor Daily News in August that he was approached by high-profile Republicans to run but rebuffed the advances because he was busy with work on his eponymous foundation.

Mills, who was wounded in 2012 and became one of only five surviving quadruple amputees from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and an author, said on Friday that LePage wasn’t one of the people who approached him on running against Golden, a 37-year-old Marine veteran.

Brakey, a libertarian-leaning conservative, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to independent Sen. Angus King. It was a race that LePage began flirting with as early as 2015 and he hemmed and hawed over the idea for much of 2017.

He released a statement that May saying he would not run and put the idea back on the table in July, stating concern that Brakey was not resonating. That December, LePage called a Washington Post report saying President Donald Trump wanted him to run was “fake news.”

Brakey spokesman David Boyer said the candidate was focused on raising money and laying the groundwork for the campaign ahead of a scheduled Sept. 17 campaign launch. He has announced endorsements from 31 Republican legislators. Boyer said if others entered the race, he would welcome “a spirited debate on what Republicans should stand for in 2020.”

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...