A former chairman of the Maine Republican Party said Tuesday that he supports independent candidate Shawn Moody in the race for Maine governor.

Mark Ellis of Augusta, who was the state GOP chairman from 2007 to 2009, said he is backing Moody because “I want us to rise above our frustration and anger and to work together on the challenges ahead.

“I believe Maine needs a leader who can bridge philosophical differences and harvest the best ideas and solutions regardless of where they came from,” Ellis said in a prepared statement. “Maine needs a governor who has the ability to listen to others, and whose responses aren’t constrained or clouded by nationally driven political parties or special interest groups.”

Ellis said he wasn’t taking a jab at Republican nominee Paul LePage, who has a well-known personal story of rising above poverty and homelessness as a child, when he said: “We need a leader who hasn’t been hardened by the hard knocks of a humble beginning, but one who has been polished by adversity and inspires others with their experiences.”

In an interview, Ellis said he was referring to Moody.

The LePage campaign responded quickly Tuesday, noting that Ellis worked for the gubernatorial campaign of Steve Abbott during the Republican primary race. Abbott, who has since become athletic director at the University of Maine, endorsed LePage after the primary vote June 8.

“It is understandable that his loss was painful,” Brent Littlefield, spokesman for the LePage campaign, said of Ellis. “Mark’s decision is one more indication that Paul LePage is not running to be one of the power brokers in Augusta; he is running to change Augusta and return it to the people.”

Also Tuesday, Moody’s campaign announced an endorsement from former state Rep. Gary Moore, R-Standish.

Ellis said his decision to turn his back on the Republican gubernatorial nominee was “extremely difficult,” because “I’m closing a lot of doors for myself personally.”

Ellis has been a GOP activist for about 16 years, and worked on the campaigns of Republican U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and former Rep. James Longley.

According to recent polls, Moody’s chances of winning the election are slim.

In a recent survey commissioned by MaineToday Media, Moody was estimated to have 4 percent of the vote, compared with 38 percent for LePage, 25 percent for Democrat Libby Mitchell, 11 percent for independent Eliot Cutler and 1 percent for independent Kevin Scott.

Nevertheless, Ellis says Moody has a shot on Nov. 2.

Following a live television debate on Saturday night at the University of Maine at Augusta, Moody made several folksy and humorous comments that portrayed him as a regular guy who is up against establishment candidates.

“People saw him as a legitimate candidate and someone they see in their own reflection,” Ellis said.