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Eric Brakey (born August 8, 1988) is an American politician from Maine.

Eric Brakey
Eric Brakey by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Member of the Maine Senate
from the 20th district
In office
December 3, 2014 – December 5, 2018
Preceded byJohn Cleveland
Succeeded byNed Claxton
Personal details
Born (1988-08-08) August 8, 1988 (age 31)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationOhio University (BFA)

Brakey was elected to the state Senate for District 20 in 2014; the district includes Auburn, New Gloucester, Poland, Minot, and Mechanic Falls. He was reelected in 2016.[1] Brakey served as chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.[2]

Brakey was Maine State Director for the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign; he led Ron Paul's supporters to win a majority of Maine delegate seats to the 2012 Republican National Convention and won key seats on the Maine Republican State Committee and National Committee. After working for Paul's 2012 presidential campaign,[3] Brakey led Defense of Liberty PAC, a libertarian political action committee in Maine.[4]

Brakey was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to incumbent Senator Angus King.[5]

Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaignEdit

Brakey served as the Maine State Director for the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign during the events of the 2012 Maine Republican Convention, in which Ron Paul supporters elected a majority of Maine delegates to the Republican National Convention and took over many key positions in the Maine Republican Party. Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald called this event "the most successful political coup in recent Maine history."[6]

Defense of Liberty PACEdit

In June 2012, Brakey founded the Defense of Liberty PAC, a libertarian political action committee in Maine.[4] In 2013, the group assigned grades to lawmakers based on their votes on bills they supported (such as legislation to make it legal for Maine residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit) and on bills they opposed (such as legislation to increase the minimum wage).[4] The group designated 10 Republican legislators as "Honor Roll" members for positions aligned with the group, and deemed 21 Democratic legislators and independent Representative Joseph E. Brooks "constitutional threats" for positions opposed to the group.[4]

2014 Maine State Senate campaignEdit

Brakey announced his campaign for Maine State Senate in July 2013. His campaign chairman was former State Senator Lois Snowe-Mello.[7] In January 2014, Brakey visited Bitcoin Center NYC to raise money and became "the first candidate in his state to accept campaign donations in bitcoins."[8]

Vita CoCo commercialEdit

In August 2013, during his campaign for the state Senate, Brakey gained attention for a commercial he acted in for Vita CoCo coconut water several years earlier. The commercial featured men dancing in Brazilian bathing suits.[9][10]

Attention to this commercial began when Mike Hein (a former employee of the Maine Christian Civic League) sent video of the commercial to major news outlets in Maine, as well as to Eric Brakey's pastors at East Auburn Baptist Church. In his message, Hein describes Brakey as "dancing around in his underwear in his bedroom, as though he were demon-possessed."[11] Brakey responded, "That's my background, and I'm still doing a lot of acting. I'm an actor, and when I was working professionally in New York City this was a real fun, wonderful opportunity doing a commercial for a national brand."[11] At the time of the controversy, Brakey noted that he was working as an actor with the Lewiston/Auburn Community Little Theatre in an upcoming production of Monty Python's Spamalot, also a comedic piece.[12][13] Maine political commentator Matthew Gagnon wrote that the incident boosted Brakey's State Senate campaign by providing "free publicity" and "an opportunity to show his personality and good nature to the voters."[14]

State Senate tenure (2014–2018)Edit

Organizational ratingsEdit

The American Conservative Union ranked Brakey's voting record as the most conservative in the Maine Senate in 2015[15] 2016,[16] and 2017.[17]

Gun lawsEdit

In 2015, Brakey sponsored legislation that eliminated Maine's requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm "for legal gun owners who are age 21 or older, and for all military servicemen or servicewomen over 18 years old."[18] The legislation won broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Paul LePage.[18] The legislation was supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Maine State Police, and opposed by Everytown for Gun Safety, the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Sheriffs' Association.[18]

Welfare reformEdit

In 2016, as Senate Chairman for the Health and Human Services Committee, Brakey negotiated welfare reform legislation, which banned the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds on purchases of tobacco, liquor, gambling materials, lottery tickets, bail, firearms, vacations, adult entertainment, and tattoos. To enforce this prohibition, penalties for making prohibited welfare purchases include required restitution for intentional violations and suspensions of benefits ranging from up to three months on the first offense and up to 24 months of suspended benefits on third and subsequent offenses.[19]

Right to tryEdit

Brakey, as chair for the Health and Human Services Committee, was the lead Senate sponsor of state "right to try" legislation in 2016, which guarantees terminally ill patients the right to use investigational drugs, treatments and medical devices that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The legislation passed the Maine House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Paul LePage signed the legislation on March 30, 2016, making Maine the 25th state in the nation (and the first in New England) to pass right-to-try legislation.[20]

Fiscal policyEdit

Brakey was the sole "no" vote in the Senate against the creation of the Maine Capital Investment Fund; in floor speeches, he opposed the fund, which directed public funds for a loan program to incentivize large, out-of-state businesses to relocate to Maine.[21]

Brakey has sponsored legislation to eliminate Maine's business income tax, while also eliminating 47 state tax credits or exemptions enjoyed by a number of industries. Brakey referred to these credits and exemptions as "carve-outs" and "corporate welfare"; the measure was opposed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.[22]


In 2015, Brakey sponsored legislation to repeal state restrictions on patient access to medical marijuana in hospital and nursing home settings.[23] Brakey also supports the legalization of marijuana for adult use.[24] He supported the Maine Marijuana Legalization (Question 1), a ballot question on the Maine 2016 ballot that legalized adult use marijuana in the state.[25]

Health careEdit

Brakey has opposed Medicaid expansion in the Maine Senate, questioning the future "solvency of the federal government."[26]

In 2017, Brakey sponsored legislation to increase access to birth control by making it easier for persons with "an outdated birth control prescription to get the medication as long as certain conditions are met."[27]

He "declined to say whether he would support allowing women who may become eligible under any expansion of Medicaid in Maine to have access to reproductive health services including abortions."[28] This issue has been a contentious one among Maine state legislators, dividing conservative Republicans and Democrats.[28]

Civil asset forfeitureEdit

Brakey is an opponent of civil asset forfeiture, saying that "The idea that the government can take property from you without trial or due process of law and that you might never be charged or convicted flies in the face of everything this country stands for." He introduced legislation that would have required the owner of a property to be convicted of a crime before that the government can forfeit that property; the bill did not pass.[29]

Criminal justiceEdit

In 2015, Brakey introduced legislation to eliminate cash bail in Maine and replace it with a risk-assessment system that would allow defendants not determined to be a flight risk to be released pending trial. Brakey said that such a policy would save taxpayer funds and protect the civil liberties of defendants; Brakey noted that "about 69 percent of the inmates in Maine jails are those who have yet to go to trial and are unable to post bail."[30]

Brakey has also sponsored legislation to allow the expungement of certain non-violent criminal records five years after the completion of the sentence, citing legislation signed into law by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin as his model.[31]

2016 presidential electionEdit

Brakey initially declined to say who he voted for in the 2016 presidential election, saying only that he did not vote for Hillary Clinton.[32] In April 2018, however, Brakey tweeted saying he "proudly voted for Donald Trump and the foreign policy he advocated."[33]

2016 Republican National PlatformEdit

At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, Brakey represented Maine on the National Platform Committee. Brakey sponsored several amendments to the platform that were successfully adopted, including a measure that declared support for "Right To Try" legislation, which would allow terminally ill patients to try investigational medicines not approved by the FDA,[34] as well as measures supporting an audit of the Pentagon,[35] the abolishment of the IRS[36] and development of thorium nuclear power.[37] Brakey also sponsored several amendments that were voted down, including a measure that would have declared support for medical marijuana,[38] and another measure that would have condemned U.S. military intervention in Libya and called the "deposing of secular dictators in the Middle East" a "failed policy" that should be ended.[39]

2018 U.S. Senate campaignEdit

In April 2017, Brakey announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in 2018 against incumbent independent Senator Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.[24] During the campaign, Brakey sought to appeal to both Trump supporters and to libertarians.[40] King was favored throughout the race,[41][5] and defeated Brakey by a wide margin in the November election.[5] King received 344,575 votes (54%); Brakey received 223,502 votes (35%), and Democratic nominee Zak Ringelstein received 66,268 votes (10%).[42]


  1. ^ "Maine 2016 General Election results". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  2. ^ Cousins, Christopher. "Maine lawmakers release committee assignments". The Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  3. ^ Katy Steinmetz, The Maine Moment: Loyal Paul Delegates Leave the Floor, Time (August 28, 2012).
  4. ^ a b c d Mario Moretto, Libertarian group commends 10 GOP lawmakers, calls 21 Democrats 'constitutional threats', Bangor Daily News (August 11, 2013).
  5. ^ a b c Michael Shepherd, Angus King eases to re-election win over young challengers, Bangor Daily News (November 7, 2018).
  6. ^ Nemitz, Bill (2012-08-01). "GOP marshals the umbrella defense". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Campaign Team". Brakey For Senate. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  8. ^ "New York's Bitcoin Center: Where The Cryptocurrency Elite And Newbies Gather". International Business Times. January 24, 2014. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "Dancing Speedo Video Surfaces Of Senatorial Candidate". Inside Edition. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Eric Brakey, Maine State Senate Candidate, Defends Swimsuit Dancing (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  11. ^ a b Thistle, Scott (2013-08-06). "Maine conservative Senate candidate dances in Speedo". Lewiston Sun Journal. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  12. ^ Larson, Leslie (August 7, 2013). "Maine State Senate hopeful Eric Brakey used to shake it in a Speedo but now can't shake bad rep". New York Daily News. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Dancing Candidate: Political Hopeful Gets Heat Over Swimsuit Video". CBS-DC. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  14. ^ Gagnon, Matt (2013-08-08). "Speedo dance gives Senate campaign legs". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c Mario Moretto & Nick McCrea, LePage signs bill to remove permit mandate for concealed guns, Bangor Daily News (July 8, 2015).
  19. ^ Thistle, Scott; Journal, Sun. "Compromise moves state welfare abuse bill forward". The Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  20. ^ "Maine Becomes 25th State to Pass Right-to-Try". The Maine Wire. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  21. ^ "Eric Brakey stands alone against bill for big business fund". Sun Journal. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  22. ^ Scott Thistle (2017-02-27). "New bill would end 'corporate welfare' tax credits, but also eliminate Maine's business income tax". Portland Press Herald.
  23. ^ "Freshman state senator submits bill to allow medical marijuana in hospitals". The Bangor Daily News. January 19, 2015.
  24. ^ a b GOP state senator Eric Brakey kicks off underdog 2018 bid to unseat Angus King, Bangor Daily News (April 3, 2017).
  25. ^ Maine legalizes marijuana for recreational use, Associated Press (November 10, 2016).
  26. ^ Dietsche, Erin (April 13, 2016). "Maine Senate barely passes Medicaid expansion". Becker's Hospital Review.
  27. ^ Tyler Cadorette (March 29, 2017). "Bill would allow Mainers to get birth control with expired prescription". WMTW.
  28. ^ a b Scott Thistle, Republican bristles at Democrats' attack ads in key Auburn-area Maine Senate contest, Sun Journal (October 28, 2014).
  29. ^ Eric Russell (August 4, 2017). "Sessions directive encourages Maine law enforcement to seize property without charges". Portland Press Herald.
  30. ^ Thistle, Scott (January 23, 2015). "Get out of jail free? Auburn senator says low-profile suspects should pay no bail". Sun Journal.
  31. ^ "Sen. Eric Brakey seeks to give former lawbreakers a second chance". Sun Journal. February 6, 2017.
  32. ^ Michael Shepherd, So, who is this young Republican who wants to unseat Angus King?, Bangor Daily News (April 4, 2017)
  33. ^ @SenatorBrakey (April 14, 2018). "I proudly voted for Donald Trump and the foreign policy he advocated. I still believe in #AmericaFirst" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  34. ^ "GOP Platform Supports Patients' Right to Experimental Drugs". Washington Free Beacon. 2016-07-12. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  35. ^ "Sen. Brakey Calls for Audit of the Pentagon". Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  36. ^ "Sen. Brakey Calls for Abolishing the IRS". Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  37. ^ "Sen. Eric Brakey Argues for Responsible Nuclear Energy Development". Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  38. ^ ""Medical Marijuana Fails To Make GOP Platform After Vigorous Debate"". Huffington Post.
  39. ^ Molly Ball (July 14, 2016). "The Party of Donald Trump?". The Atlantic.
  40. ^ Patt Wight, Republican Eric Brakey Courts Trump Supporters, Libertarians In Attempt To Unseat Angus King, Maine Public Radio (October 10, 2018).
  41. ^ Michael Shepherd,Maine Republicans play Trump card in uphill battle to unseat Angus King, Bangor Daily News (October 1, 2018).
  42. ^ Tabulations for Elections held in 2018, Maine Secretary of State.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Summers
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maine
(Class 1)

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