Thursday August 15, 2013 | 02:53 PM

Start watching for an uptick in 2nd Congressional activity now that U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, is officially declaring his candidacy for governor.  

The list of potential candidates eyeing Michaud's current congressional seat was long prior to Thursday. Two Republicans and three Democrats have already declared their candidacy. On Thursday, just before Michaud took the podium in Lewiston to announce his Blaine House bid, another Republican prospect emerged: Former Senate President Kevin Raye. 

Raye's Twitter missive was accompanied by a Facebook post:

"I’ve heard from many of my fellow Mainers urging me to get into the race — and I wanted to be sure you know that (my wife) Karen and I are actively considering that possibility!" Raye wrote. “As Senate President, I worked to put Maine on a stronger economic foundation for the future by reducing debt, reforming welfare, reining in taxes and easing the regulatory burden on small businesses to encourage job creation — all while honoring our solemn commitment to our veterans, working to protect our elderly and disabled citizens, and keeping faith with our commitment to provide our children with the best possible education." 

If Raye gets in the race, it will be his third attempt at the 2nd District. The former staffer for retired U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe lost to Michaud in 2012 and 2002.

He would join declared Republican hopefuls Blaine Richardson of Belfast, and Rep. Alex Willette of Mapleton, the assistant House minority leader. Former House Republican leader Josh Tardy, now a lobbyist at the State House, and former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin are also rumored to be weighing runs.

Democrats, Sen. Emily Cain of Orono, Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash and Alden Smith, of Sangerville, all have announced their candidacies

The governor's race is poised to garner all the statewide attention, but national interests are already focusing on the 2nd CD contest. Democrats have held the seat since 1995. On Thursday, Ian Prior, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said Michaud's entry in the governor's race further doomed national Democrats' already dim chances of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014.

"Between candidate recruiting fails and incumbents heading for the hills, it is clear that Democrats are fittingly headed for a 2014 election train wreck," Prior said in a statement.

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

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