AUGUSTA — The LePage administration will lose a key figure in the Maine Republican Party on Friday.

David Emery, who served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a highly regarded figure within the party establishment, will resign as deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

Emery was considered the likely successor to LePage’s chief budget architect, Commissioner Sawin Millett, should Millett, 74, decide to retire.

Emery said he’s resigning to enter the private sector. He said he will become chief operating officer of the SBD Group, which he described as a financial planning and business development consulting firm.

Emery’s resignation will become official Friday. He served for more than 17 months.

Emery and Millett were instrumental in drafting the state’s current two-year budget and supplemental spending plans to address shortfalls in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Emery also played a significant role in last year’s contentious congressional redistricting plan for Maine and LePage’s zero-based budgeting initiative, which mandates that each state agency build its budget from scratch rather than from spending assumptions from previous years.

Emery submitted his resignation to Millett on Aug. 27. The governor’s office received a copy of the letter Thursday. His pending departure was not announced by the administration.

Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s spokeswoman, referred all questions about Emery’s resignation to Millett. When asked why the governor didn’t comment on Emery’s departure, Bennett said the administration won’t issue a news release “every time a deputy commissioner decides to leave.”

Emery, who supports Mitt Romney for president, was appointed a national delegate by the Republican National Committee last month, after Romney supporters in the Maine Republican Party challenged the election of a slate of delegates who support Texas congressman Ron Paul. The protracted dispute prompted LePage, who supported the Paul delegates, to skip the national convention.

But Emery said he had no conflict with the governor or his administration.

“We’ve been on the same wavelength on just about every issue,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and it’s been a great privilege to serve in this administration.”

Emery was in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1984, after upsetting Democratic incumbent Peter Kyros in 1974. He made an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run against Democrat George Mitchell in 1982.

In 2005, Emery finished third in a three-way Republican gubernatorial primary.

Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com