Former state Sen. Tom Saviello speaks at an election night gathering of opponents of Central Maine Power's proposed hydropower transmission corridor, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Farmington, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — A former lawmaker who helped lead the fight against the Central Maine Power Co. corridor said Wednesday he will not run for governor in 2022.

The move from former state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton eliminates the best-known politician to publicly consider a run against Gov. Janet Mills and former Gov. Paul LePage, increasing the chances of a two-way Maine governor’s race in November for the first time in 40 years.

Saviello, a selectman in his Franklin County town who served for 16 years in the Legislature between 2002 and 2018 as a Democrat, then as an independent and finally as a moderate Republican, is a savvy and unconventional politician who was a key public face of the successful referendum campaign against the $1 billion hydropower corridor last year.

In a statement outlining his reasons for not running, he said he was “too old” at age 71 while noting Mills and LePage are older. He also said he was tired of party politics and he did not want to be a spoiler in an election that will not be run under Maine’s ranked-choice voting system. Saviello said he would not endorse anyone in the election.

“I will be watching and listening carefully to what they plan to do to lead Maine forward,” he said. “I just may find a way to share my thoughts on their ideas.

Saviello is a longtime friend of Mills who crossed party lines to endorse her and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District in 2018, but he became disillusioned with the governor’s support for the corridor. He was also one of LePage’s top foes during their time in Augusta. The former governor called Saviello “repugnant” in a 2018 legislative hearing.

In July, Saviello tantalized many in Augusta by launching a website with a countdown clock that mimicked one from LePage teasing a campaign announcement. But he has been mostly quiet on the idea since then and never looked close to running.

The prospect dragged up lots of electoral history in Maine. Democrats, who lost two elections to LePage with independent Eliot Cutler on the ballot, were nervous about a candidate who could eat away at support that Mills saw in 2018 around her hometown of Farmington.

LePage, on the other hand, welcomed the idea of Saviello’s entry. He called Saviello “a good guy” in a Sun Journal interview last year but told him to “bring it on.”

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...