Former state Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton, an independent, is weighing whether to run for governor next year.

“I haven’t quite sorted it out,” Saviello said Monday.

Tom Saviello

He said he may create an exploratory committee soon to help him determine whether he ought to leap into what could be a brutal gubernatorial battle between incumbent Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and her two-term predecessor, Republican Paul LePage.

Saviello, 71, said that while he’s enjoying retirement, he also wonders about whether to run as the only candidate firmly opposed to the New England Clean Energy Connect hydropower project that voters recently thumped in a referendum.

“I’m thinking about it,” he said.

Saviello said that one of the difficulties of running for governor is that while everyone knows his position on the power corridor from Quebec, he’d face questions about his positions on many other issues.

He said he wouldn’t make promises on issues he couldn’t necessarily do anything about as governor, preferring to work with legislators to craft workable compromises on controversial matters if it ever comes to that.

Saviello said he figures LePage has as much as 40% of the electorate locked up no matter what he does while Mills may struggle since progressives are unhappy with her on some key issues.

But Saviello also knows that LePage’s wins in 2010 and 2014 came in part because of three-way contests that split the majority of Mainers who didn’t much want the Lewiston native in the Blaine House.

LePage once made headlines calling Saviello “the most repugnant human being I’ve ever seen” — so the two are not exactly friendly.

If someone is going to join the Mills-LePage showdown, Saviello said, it has to be somebody viable — somebody who could win.

Saviello helped raise money for Mills during her 2018 campaign, when she defeated Republican Shawn Moody. He said then that he’d been friends with her for two decades.

Saviello, a former paper company executive, served four terms each in the state House and the state Senate, plus a couple of years on a school board. He won elections as a Republican but was always prone to seek middle ground on issues.

He has since changed his registration to independent.

When will he make up his mind about running?

“It has to be pretty soon,” Saviello said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.