He has campaign buttons and a campaign slogan: Louie’s running. His campaign office has taken up part of his home in Ellsworth, and when it came time to complete his federal tax return this spring, he might have written legislative candidate in the space marked occupation.

Instead, Louie Luchini thinks he listed his job as assistant coach, which he did with the Ellsworth High cross country team last season.

He’s still collecting the $5 checks that will enable him to talk with voters as a Maine Clean Election candidate. He’s still honing his, ahem, oratory. He was speaking at the local YMCA Thursday night.

“I want to know what people are thinking. I’m doing a lot more listening than talking,” said Luchini. “But I won’t mind the public speaking part.”

He’s running in the November election as a Democrat for the District 38 seat in the Maine House, representing Ellsworth, Otis and Trenton. His father, the family’s Republican, had to go to city hall and change his party affiliation.

“I told him he didn’t have to do that,” said Luchini. “I would have understood.”

He’s 28 years old, and it seems he’s been running all his life. Track meets and road races, first in his hometown of Ellsworth and later at Stanford. Politics? He was a human biology major in college, destined for pre-med.

The people at Stanford say he was one of the school’s most accomplished runners. Pac-10 champ and multi-time NCAA All-American at 5,000 and 10,000 meters. A little guy with a big heart. A perpetual sunny disposition. It never rains in Louie’s world.

He ran to win and to have fun. After Stanford, he turned pro and ran to make money. He also started talking with Matt Lane, the Yarmouth High and William & Mary graduate who, like Luchini, flirted with making the U.S. Olympic team as a distance runner.

“We’d talk about how great it was to be from Maine and how supportive the running community was,” said Luchini. “We talked about giving back. We both have the same work ethic. Matt said I should get involved in public service.”

Lane works for a Portland law firm, and his time to serve the public may come soon. Luchini believes his time is now. His marathon training has been put on hold. The door to med school may have been closed. A passion to tackle social issues has surfaced.

Luchini has the beginning of a platform, but not an agenda. Work with small businesses. Create jobs. “A lot of friends, kids I grew up with, are leaving. They can’t see anything to keep them here. I left, too. But I came back last summer.

He wants to keep the health reform debate alive. “I’ve been denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition. I’ve had problems with an Achilles tendon. Can you believe that? I’m training to run marathons, and you’d think I should be one of the healthier guys around.”

Luchini wants to be a public servant, not a politician and he can see the difference. “When you’re in training and running all those miles, you’ve got a lot of time to think.”

Luchini’s opponent won’t be known until after a Republican primary. Michael Povich, the longtime Hancock County district attorney, is taking on Matthew Boucher, a 22-year-old marketing and political consultant.

Povich has plenty of name recognition. Luchini has some. Being a top distance runner isn’t the same as being a top running back. “I introduce myself, and some people don’t know who I am. I explain. I get encouragement.”

Luchini’s experience with the electoral process is limited. “I was elected team captain. Does that count?”

It does.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com