U.S. Sen. Angus King faces not one, but two, political opponents who have appeared in online videos wearing only Speedos.

Zak Ringelstein, a long-shot Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Yarmouth, spent about five months in Nashville in 2016 performing country music under the name Zak Mountain. Over the weekend, a music video of one of his songs, “Raised in the U.S.A.,” started making the rounds on Facebook.

Zak Ringelstein, a Democrat who will challenge Sen. Angus King in the fall election, performed as a country singer in Nashville under the name Zak Mountain. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

The video no longer is available on YouTube – more on that later – but like with most things on the internet, it didn’t disappear entirely. The clip opens with Ringelstein, or Mountain, looking at the camera and saying, “America, this is my freedom,” then stripping down and jumping into a lake as the music starts. The song is jangly, pop-country with some topical lyrics.

The rest of the video features Ringelstein – sorry, Mountain – frolicking shirtless in the water with a woman in a flag-printed bathing suit – his wife, Leah, it turns out – and two other couples. Near the end, Ringelstein tears away his red swim trunks to reveal a red, white and blue Speedo. The last image shows everyone in the video taking their bathing suits off, their figures hidden underneath the water.

Ringelstein, 31, said Monday that he figured the video would surface sooner or later and he, too, embraced it.

“At the end of the day, people want to know who I am, and if people want to know that I’ve skinny-dipped, that’s awesome, because if you haven’t skinny-dipped, go live a little bit,” he said from his campaign office in downtown Portland.

Coincidentally, King’s other opponent also has appeared in an online video wearing only a Speedo.

Republican Eric Brakey was featured in a video that surfaced five years ago while he was running for a state Senate seat. It showed him dancing the samba in a Speedo while promoting Vita Coco Coconut Water. Brakey, who majored in theater in college and was working as an actor in New York City when the ad was made, laughed off the video after it was released.

Ringelstein announced his candidacy in February to challenge King, a well-known independent senator who served two terms as Maine’s governor, but Ringelstein is still largely unknown.

He grew up in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, and has only been in Maine for about a year and a half. His wife is from Rangeley, and after their first son was born, they wanted to be closer to grandparents.

Both Ringelstein and his wife were teachers when they founded an education business that helped teachers and students collaborate. They sold that company in early 2016 and moved to Nashville, the country music capital, to pursue a music career. Leah Ringelstein plays the fiddle.

“I’ve always been a musician,” he said. “I’ve been writing songs since I was in fourth grade. My first song was called, ‘Open Your Eyes.’ ”

Ringelstein played in some gigs in Nashville under the name Zak Mountain, which he chose for two reasons: He grew up in the mountains of New Hampshire and his wife described him as a mountain in her wedding vows. He played the Bluebird Cafe, which has been featured prominently on the television show “Nashville.” He played at Nissan Stadium, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. He never played the famed Ryman Auditorium, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry for three decades.

“Obviously, we moved home for a reason,” he said.

After he got a teaching job in Portland, Ringelstein said he removed the videos of him singing and playing.

“Honestly, I just didn’t want my students to find it,” he said.

Now that he’s been outed, though, Ringelstein said he doesn’t mind. He keeps a guitar in his office and plans to bring it out on the campaign soon when he starts visiting more communities. He said the image of a progressive Democrat playing a style of music most often associated with conservative politics is one people should embrace. He grew up on country, in part because those were the only stations that came in where he lived, but he believes that style of music most represents his life.

“One of the most annoying things about elitist politics is that there are people who would scoff at country music,” he said. “We need to live the values of the working class if we want to get their vote.”

Angus King remains the only candidate in a three-way race who hasn’t appeared in a Speedo. That we know of.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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