GORHAM –– Shawn Moody, a plainspoken auto body entrepreneur who recently joined the Republican Party, announced his campaign to be Maine’s next governor Tuesday, saying Mainers were tired of simply getting by.

Speaking to a crowd of 100 at his business headquarters in Gorham, Moody made reference to his childhood, being raised by a single mother of three and growing up living in a mobile home. He said as a 13-year-old, he heard his mother, who worked as a beautician to support her family, crying herself to sleep one night.

“Anybody that’s lived in a mobile home, they know the walls are pretty thin,” Moody said. “I said to myself then, ‘Somebody’s got to get ahead. Somebody’s got to get ahead here.’ And every morning since then I’ve woken up with one thing on my mind. I’m not going to get by, I’m going to get ahead and that’s what Maine needs to think – every individual in the state, we are tired of getting by, it’s time for Maine to get ahead.”

The crowd in the small banquet hall at Moody’s Collision Center included past and present state lawmakers as well as former Republican Party officials, some traveling as long as three hours to attend.

“This is what we need, we need someone with this guy’s common sense,” said former state Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley.

Moody was introduced by a series of friends, including attorney Peter Webster, who said he had known Moody professionally and as a friend for years and touted Moody’s service on the boards of both the Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System. Moody was appointed to both boards by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Webster said Maine “could do no better” than electing Moody governor in 2018. Moody ran in 2010 as an independent candidate against LePage, now finishing his second and final term. Moody finished that race in fourth place behind LePage, independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell.

Moody has formed a campaign team of former LePage staffers, including LePage’s daughter Lauren LePage and political adviser Brent Littlefield, a former Maine resident who now works in Washington, D.C., as a political consultant. Also on the Moody team is Mike Hersey, who served as the director overseeing appointments to boards and commissions for LePage and as an economic adviser. Hersey most recently headed the Welfare to Work political action committee, which unsuccessfully opposed a ballot question in November on the expansion of Medicaid.

Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, wasted little time attacking Moody and his ties to LePage.

“The last the thing Maine can afford is four more years of LePage-style policies,” Bartlett said in a prepared statement pointing out Moody’s selection of campaign staff and his own admission he is philosophically aligned with LePage. “Unlike Moody and the Republicans, our Democratic candidates are prepared to advance bold new leadership focused on creating good-paying jobs and growing Maine’s economy,” Bartlett said.

During his speech, Moody also alluded to his alignment with LePage on welfare issues, noting he believed in taking care of people. “But taking care of people doesn’t mean just giving them things,” Moody said. “We’ve worked for what we have. We help people aspire. Sometimes giving people something for free, it doesn’t stoke their ambition. I know going without can be a pretty good motivator.”

Moody also vowed to protect gun rights and Maine’s hunting heritage while pushing for more outdoors-related tourism statewide. “We’ve turned our back on blue-collar Maine; I’m a blue-collar guy,” he said.

Moody took to the podium tugging at his red necktie, asking the crowd, “How’s this tie look?” Then said he convinced his campaign team to let him at least roll up the sleeves of his dress shirt. “I had to compromise and feel a little comfortable here.”

Moody, 57, joined the Republican Party in October and said he was exploring a run for the governor’s office. He noted his values were more aligned with Republicans and he believed he needed the party’s support to win but was committed to keeping his independent mindset.

Moody’s self-made business success story in many ways resembles that of Paul LePage, who escaped poverty, homelessness and an abusive father to become a business and then political juggernaut. LePage gained popularity with Mainers who relished his tell-it-like-it-is and often off-color and off-putting style of politics to twice win election to the state’s highest office. But Moody, who grew a statewide chain of 11 Moody’s Collision Center locations from a business he started while still at Gorham High School, has a softer edge than LePage, who so far hasn’t said whom he supports in the race to replace him.

Moody is the fifth Republican to join the race, which now includes 21 candidates, including nine Democrats, two Greens, four independents and a Libertarian. Other well-known Republicans in the lineup include former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, state House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, state Senate President Mike Thibodeau and state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason.