Paul LePage Must Rule Maine Again, Has Unfinished Business With Smoothie, Shifty, D-Money
If you hear an off-key cello unsteadily scratching out the theme from Jaws, that's probably because racist Hefty bag of bile and moose leavings and former Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced yesterday he will run for a third term, which is allowed now that he's had a break. LePage had been term-limited from running again in 2018, but he really can't stand his successor, Democrat Janet Mills, who has committed the unspeakable crime of actually helping people. So LePage, who liked to brag that he was "Trump before there was Trump," is out to make Maine a laughingstock again, because now the entire Republican Party is as insane as he always was.
LePage said shortly before leaving office that he was "done with politics," and actually made a great show of moving to Florida for the lower taxes. For some reason, though, he just wasn't up to being a Florida Man. That honestly surprised us, since we were sure he could have managed to eat someone's face without even being on bath salts.
At the time of his "retirement," LePage said he had been "talking to a couple of universities" about teaching appointments, but apparently he didn't get any actual appointments, possibly because there were no positions open in White Grievance Studies. The LePages moved back to Maine in 2020, establishing residency in time for him to run for governor in 2022.
During his eight years as Maine governor, LePage had a unique talent for being an asshole, picking fights with those he considered political enemies, which could include just about anyone: the press, teachers (LePage said they were a "dime a dozen)," poor people, and members of the Maine Legislature — not just Democrats, but also Republicans who passed bills that LePage didn't like. LePage publicly fought with Mills several times when she was state attorney general when she chose not to defend policies that she said were not good for Maine, or which seemed likely to be overturned.
And then there's the racism, which went well beyond the Portland Press-Herald's euphemistic "multiple instances in which he was accused of racially inflammatory remarks." For starters, there was his infamous 2016 explanation of why Maine had an opioid epidemic: out-of-state drug dealers, who had what LePage thought were very typical gang-person nicknames.
"Now the traffickers, these aren't people that take drugs. These are guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," LePage said, drawing chuckles from the crowd in Bridgton, ME. "These type of guys that come from CT and NY, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home."
Bad enough, but of course that was followed by this, which was "racially inflammatory" the way the Hindenburg had an ignition and flammability event:
"Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave," LePage added. "Which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we've gotta deal with down the road. We're gonna make 'em very severe penalties."
Some might indeed say that's racist. True, some might not — and they have no business being a governor. LePage later tried to explain it away by insisting that well of course nearly all the girls in Maine are white, so how is that racist? Yes, really. A month later, he explained he really had been warning about "Black drug dealers" coming to Maine (and about the need to chop some dealers' heads off, too), but he'd only done all the racism to call attention to the serious heroin problems, don't you see? Then later, while pretending to "apologize," LePage said that in a drug war, you have to kill the enemy, and "the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin." So really, it's not his fault that he called people of color drug dealers, because they are, aren't they?
Among other achievements, LePage also blocked efforts to promote green energy, suggesting that wind turbines actually have "a little electric motor that turns the blades," to fool people into thinking wind power is feasible. He also imposed a moratorium on wind energy development, and vetoed bills that would have allowed folks with rooftop solar power to get a credit for excess power that went back into the grid. Mills reversed those policies in her first year of office, and signed bills committing the state to getting 80 percent of its electric power from renewable sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.
LePage also pursued a relentless war on poor people, refusing again and again to expand "MaineCare," the state's Medicaid system, as well as imposing work requirements and premiums on those who did qualify. Mills signed off on Medicaid expansion her first day in office, covering some 75,000 people who hadn't had health insurance, and removed LePage's restrictions. LePage also notoriously spent federal aid that should have gone to poor families on stuff like abstinence-only sex ed.
It's hard to say what chance LePage will have against Mills in 2022; he remains popular with the loony Right, and since independent candidates split the vote, he managed to get elected with a plurality in both of his previous elections — just 38 percent of votes in 2010. (Maine's ranked-choice voting won't be a factor in the general election; it's only used in primaries for governor.)
But it also seems likely that most Mainers are as sick of him as most Americans are of Trump. Mills hasn't yet formally announced she's running for reelection, but her campaign is already fundraising against LePage. We're not sure Mills has the money to pay the royalties, but it sure seems like "Won't Get Fooled Again" might be a good campaign song. Just leave off the final couplet, please.
[Bangor Daily News / Portland Press-Herald / Portland Press-Herald]
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