Trump Acolyte LePage Given Green Light to Run for Third Term in Maine
"Between blocking healthcare access for tens of thousands, gutting our state's education and public health systems, and refusing to adequately address the opioid epidemic or rising property taxes, LePage's tenure was a disaster for Maine people," said the chair of the state's Democratic Party.
Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a far-right Republican who made openly racist comments about immigrants in the state and compared himself to former President Donald Trump during his time in office, has officially been approved to run for a third term.
"We can't let Paul LePage drag us backward once again."
LePage, who launched his campaign last July, submitted more than 2,000 signatures in support of his candidacy to state officials on Wednesday, meeting the requirements to run in the June primary. Maine laws prohibit governors from holding office for three consecutive terms, but former governors are permitted to seek a third term after leaving office. LePage is the first person to do so.
During his time as governor from 2011 to 2019, LePage said that "people of color or people of Hispanic origin" were "the enemy" in Maine's fight against the opioid epidemic, prompting calls for his resignation. He also reduced welfare benefits and oversaw a rapid rise in childhood poverty, and his administration denied healthcare coverage to tens of thousands of Mainers as he refused to enact the Medicaid expansion that was approved by voters.
LePage told the Maine Beacon on Thursday that if elected, he will not "repeal anything that is good for Maine people," referring to the Medicaid expansion, but added that he "will reinstate work [requirements]" for beneficiaries of the program.
Handy reminder, as he horrifyingly files papers to run again, of how cruel, inconsistent and just plain batshit LeP… https://t.co/VEm5jfgC0O— Nora Flaherty-Stanford (@Nora Flaherty-Stanford) 1645110880
"Between blocking healthcare access for tens of thousands, gutting our state's education and public health systems, and refusing to adequately address the opioid epidemic or rising property taxes, LePage's tenure was a disaster for Maine people," said Drew Gattine, chair of the Maine Democratic Party, on Wednesday. "We can't let Paul LePage drag us backward once again."
If he wins the Republican primary, LePage's main opponent is expected to be Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who has been fundraising aggressively but has not officially announced her plans to run for reelection.
On Wednesday, as he submitted the signatures in support of his run at the Maine State House, LePage criticized Mills over mask mandates in schools--despite the fact that the state government only recommends masking; mandates for school districts have been decided locally.
"Take the masks off the kids and let them be kids," LePage said. "I think parents are better equipped to deal with Covid than Janet Mills."
The former governor also sought to place blame for rising electricity prices with Mills, although experts say cost increases are linked to global trends, and attacked Mills' proposal to send $500 checks to about 800,000 Mainers, amounting to half of the state's $822 million revenue surplus.
LePage said the money should go towards income tax cuts, while Mills cited the nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee's projections of potentially "volatile" long-term revenues, depending on the pandemic and other factors.
"The governor's office said a permanent tax cut with a short-lived surplus could potentially lead to scenarios of cutting spending or raising taxes down the road when the state no longer has a surplus budget," reportedNews Center Maine.
A Spectrum News/Ipsos poll released last September showed a 48% approval rating for Mills, with 54% of respondents saying they approved of her handling of the pandemic.