A hopeful for the office of Governor in the US state of Maine has come out as gay, saying he wants to counter “whisper campaigns” raising questions about his sexuality.

Mike Michaud came out as gay in an op-ed given to the Associated Press. He is the Democratic challenger to Maine Governor Paul LePage.

In the piece, he wrote: “I am not ashamed of who I am.” He also said that he wanted to counter “whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls”, which raised questions about his personal life, but did not reveal who was behind the alleged campaigns.

The three-way race with LePage, Michaud and independent challenger Eliot Cutler is already tight.

It is unclear how Michaud’s coming out could affect his running in the race.

The US state of Maine last year voted in favour of marriage rights for gay couples in a public referendum.

Residents in the state voted 54% to 47% in support of marriage equality.

The US currently has no openly gay governor.