Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart is one of three Republicans appointed to lead Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign in Maine.

Sen. Harold “Trey” Stewart III, R-Presque Isle, will help lead the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign in Maine. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Former House Republican leader Josh Tardy and state Rep. Reagan Paul, R-Winterport, are also part of the Maine leadership team, the DeSantis campaign announced Wednesday.

The appointments represent the first formal announcement of a presidential campaign setting up shop in Maine.

DeSantis has been a rising star in the Republican Party. He moved quickly to reopen state businesses early in the COVID-19 pandemic and has embraced conservative causes, including restricting abortion access and limiting classroom discussions about racism, gender identity and sexuality.

But DeSantis has struggled in the polls against former President Donald Trump, who continues to hold an iron grip on the Republican Party despite four active criminal indictments and upcoming trials expected to play out during the Republican primary and general election next year.

Stewart, R-Presque Isle, said in a written statement that DeSantis will “lead our Great American Comeback.”


“We have seen Joe Biden do so much damage to this country and hardworking Mainers are struggling under Bidenomics,” Stewart said. “2024 is our chance to reverse our nation’s decline and Ron DeSantis is the only leader in the race who can do that. I’ve seen what he’s done to make Florida the best state to do business and we need his strong leadership in the White House.”

President Biden visited Maine over the summer to tout his economic agenda, saying it’s helping to revitalize manufacturing sectors across the country.

Paul, who is serving her first term in the Maine House and was a leading critic of expanded abortion access, said she is supporting DeSantis because “we need a young, conservative leader in the White House with a fixed moral compass who will fight for the American people again.”

The announcement comes as Maine’s attorney general and secretary of state, both Democrats, are reviewing whether Trump should be excluded from the Republican primary ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, which sought to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. State officials in other states are conducting similar reviews.

A longshot Republican candidate from Texas has subsequently filed a lawsuit in Maine and other states, challenging Trump’s eligibility under the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits anyone who has taken the oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Congress can waive that prohibition by a two-thirds vote.

Maine’s presidential primaries are scheduled for March 5. It will be the first primary election in which unenrolled voters can participate in either party’s primary without having to register with a political party.

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