ELLSWORTH, Maine — Local businessman John Linnehan, a Christian conservative and vocal supporter of gun rights, has leased the former two-screen movie theater at Maine Coast Mall and is planning to use it as an event space for political conservatives during this year’s election cycle.

A large sign erected Thursday in front of the mall on High Street depicts an American flag, a dove, a bald eagle, the Bible, Jesus, the Liberty Bell and the U.S. Constitution, and has attracted much attention on social media. At the top of the sign in large letters the words “John Linnehan’s Constitution Hall” are printed in red and blue.

The event venue plans are the latest effort by Linnehan, a longtime Republican Party supporter, to get conservative Republicans elected to public office. On his “John Linnehan Freedom Fighter” page on Facebook, Linnehan touts the space as a place for pro-Constitution conservatives to gather and network with each other.

Linnehan himself has run as a candidate for public office — for Ellsworth City Council in 2016 and again last year, and for Maine State Senate in 2004 and 2020 — but has not won an election.

“My personal goal is to create a unification hub for the hundreds of groups, organizations and individuals all across our great state of Maine that share common constitutional freedom goals but may not even be aware that each other exist,” Linnehan said in a video on the page. “I believe that we pro-constitutionalists are in the majority. We just haven’t had the networking relationships to realize it.”

Linnehan said that, by conservatives coming together, they can “turn Maine red” in 2022 and restore constitutional freedoms that the government has taken away, though he didn’t cite any specific freedoms.

“Red simply means remove every Democrat,” he said in the video. “This will happen if we unify on our one common issue and collectively reclaim our constitutional freedoms.”

The Maine Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment about Linnehan’s electoral goals.

The event space consists of two 175-seat movie theaters, one called “Independence Hall” and the other called “1776 Patriot Hall,” Linnehan said in the video.

Linnehan declined to provide more information about the venue or events he plans to hold there.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....