AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A candidate for Maine Senate who's getting heat for appearing in Brazilian-style swim trunks in an online video says his acting background is the kind of experience Mainers should want from their lawmakers.
Eric Brakey, 24, is running as a Republican to represent a district in southern Maine that includes parts of suburban Lewiston, one of the state's largest cities. He has come under attack for the advertisement for Vita Coco, the Brazilian coconut water brand.
"There are too many people who are empty suits, career politicians who don't have experience working in the private sector," he said.
Michael Hein, a former office manager of the Christian Civic League of Maine, sent the video via email to pastors at East Auburn Baptist Church, which Brakey says he attends.
In the email, first reported by the Sun Journal newspaper, Hein criticized Brakey's claim in a campaign message of "family values," saying the candidate was dancing around as though he were "demon-possessed."
Hein told The Associated Press that Brakey's actions are inappropriate for someone running for a prominent state office seat.
"If he is running on the Republican ticket and is saying that has these family values, well it's just completely incongruous to what you see in the video," he said. "If that's something that he wants to do there is technically nothing illegal in it, but he's also stating that he's running for state Senate," he said.
But Brakey said there's no need to apologize. He said if Ronald Reagan can become president after the movie "Bedtime for Bonzo," then voters won't mind his dance moves.
Brakey filed papers this summer and officially announced his campaign last month. The seat is currently held by a first-term Democrat. No one else has announced yet whether they will seek the seat.
In a video announcing his candidacy, Brakey says his motivation to run stems from the "fiscal mess" his generation is inheriting. He says he wants to put an end to the limitless expansion of government by "career politicians," something he says puts a heavy burden on future generations.
Brakey, who used to act in New York, said he's appearing this weekend in Monty Python's "Spamalot" at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center in Auburn.
"If anyone is scared away by the comedy in the Vita Coco ad, they won't want to see 'Spamalot' because it's much more of a comedic piece that doesn't shy away from offending," he said.