Michael Perkins, a Republican candidate for the Maine Senate, is facing questions about a potential ethics issue after his campaign released a flyer last week that some say implies endorsements from the Winslow Town Council and town of Winslow. Above, Perkins speaks during an event in 2021. Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — Michael Perkins, a Republican candidate for the Maine Senate, is facing questions about a potential ethics issue after his campaign released a flyer last week that some say implies endorsements from the Winslow Town Council and town of Winslow.

The flyer features a photograph of Perkins standing with three Winslow town councilors – Mike Joseph, Frances Hudson and Adam Lint – in front of the Fort Halifax blockhouse in Winslow. The headline on the flyer reads, “Winslow Supports Mike Perkins For Senate,” and the circular includes quotes from each of the three councilors endorsing Perkins.

The flyer distributed by Michael Perkins’ campaign for the Maine Senate.

Winslow Town Manager Ella Bowman wrote in a social media post March 10 that the flyer could be read as an endorsement of Perkins by the council and town, and she admonished the councilors for “creating a divide within our town” by expressing public support in the race.

The councilors in the photograph said that none of that was their intent and that the flyer was distributed without their approval.

Reached for comment Wednesday, Perkins said the controversy was started “because they’re Democrats and we’re Republicans,” but he declined to elaborate. Joseph, Hudson and Lint are all registered Republicans.

Perkins, who is chairman of the Oakland Town Council, is campaigning against state Rep. Scott Cyrway in the 16th District’s Republican primary, scheduled for June 11. The Senate district includes Albion, Fairfield, Oakland, Waterville and Winslow.


Hudson said last week she did not make the endorsement in an official capacity and that she had not approved the flyer before it was distributed to local residents.

“I’m an individual. I’m not representing the town of Winslow. I’m not doing it as a Town Council member,” Hudson said. “I didn’t see (the placard) until last Tuesday, and the title on top I didn’t really pay attention to because I was looking at the picture.”

It was not clear how many flyers had been distributed, though Hudson said earlier this month that Perkins had printed 6,000 flyers with a corrected headline that are set to be distributed.

Joseph and Lint declined requests for comment, though Lint echoed Hudson’s sentiments in a post to the popular “What’s Happening in Winslow, Maine?” Facebook group, in which he apologized for the misunderstanding.

“We are not speaking for the town of Winslow, or in our public capacity, with our choice to support Mike Perkins,” Lint’s Facebook post read. “It is our individual choices as residents of Winslow to support Mike Perkins. We had no knowledge of the final printout of this card.”

Hudson created and moderates the Facebook group, which has gathered about 6,600 members since she founded it in 2014. It frequently plays host to contentious discussions on local government, with support from the group’s members cited as the primary reason Hudson, Joseph and Lint won election in November.


Lint’s post to the group received about 80 comments, in which residents argued with one another and town administrators about the ethics and legality of the flyer.

Bowman wrote more than a dozen of the comments, claiming councilors are dividing Winslow’s residents and saying Perkins had similarly misconstrued an endorsement from her about a decade ago.

“I have answered several telephone calls at the Winslow town office due to the unhappiness by citizens regarding that the Town of Winslow is supporting Mike Perkins,” Bowman wrote, commenting on the post. “As Councilors, you represent all who live in Winslow. By publicly supporting individual politicians as Winslow Councilors, you are creating a divide within our town.”

Bowman, who resigned as town manager of neighboring Oakland before taking the job as Winslow’s top official, also said that Perkins “did the same thing to me in 2015 by asking me to write a letter of support for him” and “you got used, just like I did.”

“It was supposed to be for the Republican committee in Augusta,” Bowman wrote of the 2015 letter. “Guess what? He mailed it to every household in Oakland and Sidney that was in his district.”

Bowman also advised Hudson, Joseph and Lint to keep their political affiliations out of the public eye, saying councilors should focus on town policy rather than partisan politics.


“I don’t care what anyone’s political allegiance is. We can’t promote ours,” Bowman wrote. “We are supposed to be politically agnostic.”

Cyrway, who is Perkins’ opponent in the Republican primary, said earlier this month that while it is not uncommon for local officials to endorse state politicians, he found the flyer’s message disingenuous and potentially misleading.

“I do think it’s a little deceptive when you say a whole town supports you,” Cyrway said. “I mean, I could have a horse stand beside me and say, ‘Albion supports me,’ you know?”

Cyrway was elected in 2014 to represent Senate District 16. He served until 2022, when he could no longer run because of term limits. Instead, he ran for and was elected to House District 63, representing Albion, Freedom, Unity Township and part of Winslow. That stint in the House enables Cyrway to now run again for the state Senate seat.

This is not Perkins’ first attempt at seeking higher office. He previously served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives from 2016 to 2022. In 2021, he ran as a candidate in the Republican primary for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, but he dropped out after contracting COVID-19 and nearly dying, saying he would turn his attention to running in 2022 for state Senate District 16 against David LaFountain of Winslow, a Democrat. LaFountain won that race and is running unopposed this year in his party’s primary for the seat.

Hudson and Lint said they had not violated any of Winslow’s Town Council bylaws or election ordinances, and that legal counsel had indicated they were within their First Amendment rights to endorse Perkins.

“They can’t really say much because we didn’t do anything illegal. There’s nothing in the charter or the ordinance,” Hudson said. “Just because I became a council member doesn’t remove my right to vote.”

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