Shawn Moody of Gorham, a former independent candidate for governor, is joining the Maine Republican Party, a move he admits could open the door for his second gubernatorial campaign in the past seven years.

The 57-year-old Moody confirmed during a telephone interview that he joined the Republican Party on Tuesday, but he cautioned that does not necessarily mean he has decided to run for governor in 2018.

Moody said he plans to make an announcement regarding his intentions in November, sometime before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We are in the exploratory mode right now,” Moody said.

Moody, who describes himself as an independent-minded business owner and individual, said he joined the Republican Party because its beliefs and values align more closely with his own. Running for governor as an independent in 2010 served as more of a handicap than an advantage, he added.

Moody, who owns Moody’s Collision Centers, a chain of auto-body repair shops around Maine, came in next to last in a five-way race that included Republican Paul LePage, now in his second and last term, Democrat Libby Mitchell, and independents Eliot Cutler and Kevin Scott. Moody received 5 percent of the vote.

“Looking at it from a realistic standpoint, there is not an independent party in Maine,” Moody said. “It turned out to be a handicap in 2010. I didn’t have a political party to support me.”

It’s not clear how Moody would fit into what is turning out to be an already crowded field of Republican gubernatorial contenders.

As of Tuesday, three Republicans have announced their intentions to run for governor in 2018: former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette. Republican Sen. Susan Collins is weighing a run and is expected to announce her decision on Friday.

If he should decide to make another run for the Blaine House, Moody promises that he won’t change much. “I’m an independent person and you’re not going to rub my independent spot off anytime soon.”

“We are delighted to welcome Shawn into our party,” Maine Republican Party chairwoman Demi Kouzounas said in a statement Tuesday. “Shawn’s decision is further evidence that the Republican message and agenda – advancing the interests of working people and putting Americans first – is connecting with more new people every day. We are thrilled to have Shawn join our great team.”

Since 2010, Moody has significantly raised his name recognition and statewide profile, accepting LePage appointments to the boards of trustees of both the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System. Moody’s auto repair business has received frequent accolades, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Business and the Top 40 Best Places to Work in Maine.

Moody posted a message on his Facebook page recently, inviting the community to celebrate his company’s 40th anniversary by attending a party on Saturday in Gorham at the former racetrack on Route 202. Comedian Bob Marley will perform and several cars will be destroyed in a demolition derby.