A longtime Orono-based political activist and writer will kick off his campaign for state Senate on Saturday, setting up a Democratic primary for the open seat representing Orono, Old Town and surrounding communities. 

Mike Tipping, a Democrat who grew up and lives in Orono, said Wednesday that the Maine State Nurses Association and other “big endorsements” will join him at his campaign launch.

Tipping, 37, is now the second Democrat running for the open seat, setting up a race that so far includes him and Abe Furth, co-owner of Orono Brewing Company and other businesses who announced his candidacy in June. Furth kicked off his campaign, joined by Senate Democratic leaders and Sen. Jim Dill, who currently represents the district.

In addition to the nurses’ union, Tipping said he has received endorsements so far from Orono Town Council members. Dill will also appear at his campaign launch, along with Senate Democratic leaders, he said.

Tipping isn’t a stranger to Maine politics as he has worked on several campaigns through the Maine People’s Alliance, for which he serves as communications director, including pushes for tribal sovereignty, climate change action and other measures that support families, he said. 

“I want to bring people together and take this moment to make life better for families, especially in small towns in Maine,” Tipping said. 

Asked about his reasons for challenging a fellow Democrat, Tipping said he’s “focused on his own race.” 

Other members of Tipping’s family have also served in local and state office. His brother, Ryan Tipping, represented Orono in the Maine House for four terms, serving until 2020. Tipping’s father also served on the Orono Town Council.

In addition to his work for the Maine People’s Alliance, Tipping has written extensively about Maine politics. He’s a former political blogger for the Bangor Daily News’ opinion section. In 2014, he published a book, “As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine,” in which he revealed the Republican governor’s meeting with a group known as Sovereign Citizens, which the FBI has considered a domestic threat to law enforcement and which believe county sheriffs to be the highest governmental authority.

Senate District 5 currently includes Argyle Township, Chester, East Millinocket, Edinburg, Enfield, Greenbush, Howland, Mattawamkeag, Maxfield, Medway, Milford, Millinocket, Old Town, Orono, Passadumkeag, Penobscot Nation Indian Island, Seboeis Plantation, Veazie, Woodville and part of North Penobscot Unorganized Territory. However, the boundaries are likely to change due to legislative redistricting using new census data.

The Democratic primary for the seat will take place in June 2022. Dill, who has served four terms, is prohibited from running again.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated state Sen. Jim Dill’s position in the Democratic primary. He has not endorsed a candidate.

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...