Gov. Paul LePage alienates lawmakers after meeting top goals

AUGUSTA — Moderate Republicans backed away from Gov. Paul LePage this week in the wake of his largest legislative defeat and a string of public outbursts in which the governor crudely insulted a Democratic senator and toyed with a run for Congress rather than re-election to the Blaine House.

Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage

The governor suffered his most significant loss Wednesday when lawmakers overrode his veto of the two-year state budget. It was one of a handful of rebuffs in a legislative session during which he’s largely controlled the flow of business by using his veto pen to reject more than 50 bills, a record number.

The budget override vote capped a contentious week for LePage. A rift between him and Republican legislative leaders became evident as he dug in his heels in opposition to the state budget and his Vaseline comment about Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson became fodder for late-night TV.

It appeared as if LePage was losing his ability to get his way. He said Wednesday, for the second time in days, that he may not seek re-election to the governor’s office and that he had no policy priorities left to tackle.

But it’s too early to write him off, political observers say.

“He has invested in a particular kind of governing style, one that is aggressive and really speaks to a particular political base,” said Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine. “It may turn out to be a wise strategy, but it is a risky one. What we’re seeing this week, I think, is the downside of that strategy.”

While his style has limited public appeal, LePage still has managed to accumulate a noteworthy list of accomplishments over the past few months even with his party holding minorities in the House and Senate.

Two weeks ago, LePage signed into his law his top priority of the legislative session: a bill to repay the state’s $484 million hospital debt using proceeds from a renegotiated state wholesale liquor contract. While Democrats presented alternatives along the way, the final plan includes most of what LePage proposed in the first place.

LePage also has managed to squash a major Democratic priority, a bill to expand the state’s Medicaid program. And on Wednesday night, lawmakers handed him another victory when they acquiesced to his demand that the Maine Public Utilities Commission reopen its review process for offshore wind energy projects and consider a pilot project developed at the University of Maine for support from electric ratepayers.

Even in the budget LePage vetoed, Republicans managed to keep intact a major LePage priority: income tax cuts passed two years ago by a Republican-controlled Legislature. And to date, the Legislature has managed to override only three of LePage’s 51 vetoes — Republicans often have abandoned their initial votes on legislation to side with LePage — and one of those overrides came with LePage’s consent.

“We’d have to have many more data points in order to determine whether in fact he’s losing effectiveness,” said Douglas Hodgkin, a retired political science professor at Bates College. “The budget was a very special kind of thing where it could be at least the perception of dire consequences if it were not passed.”

And with the Legislature preparing to adjourn in the near future, there won’t be many more opportunities for LePage to prove he’s still in control or for Democrats to prove they’ve seized the reins.

But while LePage has amassed policy victories, some high-profile Republicans are deliberately distancing themselves from their governor.

“I am embarrassed,” Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, assistant Senate Republican leader, wrote Wednesday in an essay published by the Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald.

“Why is politics in Augusta beginning to feel like politics in dysfunctional Washington?” he wrote. “To me and many others, it is once again the unfortunate tone being set by our chief executive. His use of vulgarity and schoolyard taunts to demean his Democratic opponents. His failure to offer real apology. And then his insulting of Republican legislators who choose to disagree with him.”

And Rep. Kenneth Fredette of Newport, the House Republican leader, had critical words for LePage on the House floor before Wednesday’s override vote.

“The Republican Party was a successful party when we had a big, welcoming tent,” he said. “The level of vitriol I have witnessed and the circular firing squads I have seen among Republicans cannot stand.”

Neither Katz nor Fredette entertained LePage’s suggestion that the state pass a stopgap, 60-day budget to avoid a government shutdown and give legislative leaders time to work out a budget that didn’t raise taxes. Both voted to reject LePage’s budget veto, and LePage singled out Fredette for criticism Wednesday after the budget override vote.

“You can want a very assertive representative for your issues,” Schmidt said, “but anyone who seems like they can just sort of lose control can be a liability.”

At this point, LePage appears to be a liability to Republicans’ electoral prospects, Schmidt said, and Democrats seem to have captured momentum with the budget override vote and the likely entrance of Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud into the 2014 gubernatorial race.

But that easily could change between now and November 2014.

“If the governor can demonstrate that his style is effective on particular issues, disaffected Republicans could very well come back into his orbit, and he’s got time to do that,” said Schmidt. “It’s less an issue of him trying to create a new political persona at this point than trying to muffle this one.”

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Comments

Lepage 's political future

As, Ihave often stated, I would hope his erratic behavior would prevent him from being re elected,but I have seen scary polling that says that he+Michaud are tied with 34% each+ Cutler is way behind!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Cutler

Will see the writing on the wall and pull out to not have another cluster uck....but then again we saw Robme's poll was off too...

FRANK EARLEY's picture

LePage is not an assertive representative.........

He's nothing but an angry man with an uncontrollable temper, who just doesn't think before he speaks. Any success he appears to have, is nothing but shear luck.

Mike Lachance's picture

"Moderate Republicans"?

How many "Moderate Democrats" do we hear about in the news... oh... that's right; there is no such thing. Its either "Moderate Republican" or "Independent Thinker" Either of which is nothing more than a stomach turning shade of yellow political cowardice.

We have Democrats and we have Republicans. If Rotundo, Michaud, or Craven voted lockstep with the Republicans 80% of the time I don't think they would be referred to as "Moderate Democrats" or "Independent Thinkers"... but that standard is applied to Republicans who side with Dems on a regular basis.

If LePage is offending RINOs he is keeping his word from his election campaign. As far as winning the Blaine House with a minority of votes goes, it seems the loudmouths on the left have forgot the little noted fact that LePage won with a higher percentage than Baldacci did in 2006. So, in reality, applying the same shallow standard, Baldacci was pandering only to an even smaller minority for his second term. Really?

It's amazing how hypocritical the Anti-LePage crowd has become.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Moderate democrats

You don't hear that term in the news because they are called Blue democrats and we have plenty of them. We do not use terms like RINO and stomach churning to refer to our fellow democrats.

Mike Lachance's picture

Oh?... Can you name some of

Oh?... Can you name some of these "Blue Democrats"? Never heard of any in Maine.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Blue dogs

I left out the word dog sorry. Mike Michaud is considered to be a blue dog democrat. Two others that you may have heard of would be Bill Clinton and Obama. Clinton made deficit reduction a priority, not a liberal democrat notion. Obama took his health care program from Romney and his wars from Bush. Neither of these are very liberal and he has offered cuts to entitlements that have more than upset his liberal base. There are many blue dog democrats in the western states and in the mid-west who routinely vote with republicans on budget issues.

Mike Lachance's picture

Claire if you honestly

Claire if you honestly believe what you just typed, you are 100% out of touch with reality. I apologize for such a harsh assessment, but calling Obama Blue Dog Democrat is insane.

In 2008 a study of vote roll calls in the Senate found Obama to be the #1 most liberal Senator in Congress. While many liberals cringed at the use of the term "liberal" to describe themselves ("progressive" is the new label they prefer) there was little doubt of the facts and much poo-pooing of the fact that someone would dare raise such points in the first place.
Even Mother Jones begrudgingly admitted Obama "may" be such, but then went further by revealing that he is not a centrist and everything he does is toward a progressive end.

"But regardless of whether or not Obama is the most liberal senator, and regardless of his choice of response, let's make one thing clear. Obama is not a centrist. He was never centrist. ...He does reach across the aisle. But he always does so in pursuit of progressive ends." ---By Jonathan Stein, Mother Jones

Did you know, Claire, that their is actually a "Blue Dog Caucus" in Congress. One of the tenets is a "pay-as-you-go" policy which holds that any legislation requiring an outlay of taxpayer money cannot increase the federal deficit. And you call Obama a Blue Dog??? Michaud? Neither are or ever were members of the Blue Dog Democrat caucus. Neither are or ever have been centrists.

As for Bill Clinton, revisionist history aside, the truth of 1993-1995 was that the Republicans "Contract with America" was what swept in the budget and spending cuts that turned a recession/deficit into the longest period of growth and surplus in decades. Clinton went along with it after the Republicans swept the mid terms and passed the budget. Make no mistake about it Claire, Clinton and the Democrats fought against that budget with ferocity. The sick part is Clinton taking credit for a surplus and budget that he opposed (right up until it was clear there was no way he could avoid it)

Revisionist History only works if your audience could care less about the truth and you are willing to bank everything on the chance of politically fired white-lies being believed by the general public.

I have never heard of a "Blue Democrat"

But as for a moderat Dem, Mike Michaud is certainly a qualifier, because he is somewhat liberal on social policy and somewhat conservative on fiscal policy.

Thing about Democrats is, they don't try to kick their own out of the party if the don't hew to the party line. There's no such thing as a DINO. The mainstream party is far more willing to embrace a wide range of opinion, but ignores its lunatic fringe. The GOP mainstream, however, is deathly afraid of offending its lunatic fringe and will bend over backwards to accomodate them while dismissing the moderates as traitors or insufficiently conservative to be allowed to come to the parties. Ask Chris Christie, once a favorite of the Tea Party wing(nuts), who was not allowed at this year's conservative convention. His offense? He was nice to Obama. And now it appears Rubio is being drummed out of the Conservative Corps for suggesting maybe the Party should consider being a little nicer to the immigrants who seem to be far more willing to do the work we privileged white people think we're too good for. (Or maybe they just think the black folks should?)

I don't recall the last time a respected Democrat was drummed out of the Corsp for being insufficiently Progressive.

Mike Lachance's picture

Mike Michaud has a record of

Mike Michaud has a record of voting with the Democrat party 90.3% of the time, and is still ranked as the most conservative Democrat Representative in Maine. (In comparison, Barney Frank voted 91.9% along party lines and is no "Blue Dog Democrat")
You are right though, in no way is Michaud a "DINO".

In comparison, Susan Collins has a record of voting with the Republican party 61.5% of the time. She ranks dead last out of 46 Republican US Senators as of 2013. Only Olympia Snowe (ranked 47 before her last term ended) ranked lower. Both are "RINO" Poster Children without any doubt.

If the Republican base cant stand a politician who votes with the Dems nearly 40% of the time, the only problem is with the politicians chosen party. If any Democrat voted with Republicans 40% of the time they would either (a) never be re-elected of (b) switch party affiliation.

Now what is that about the Dem party ignoring it's "lunatic fringe"? You do know that BHO was noted as the "most liberal senator" on the Hill prior to his 2008 presidential run? And somehow Joe "foot-in-mouth desease" Biden managed the VP spot by being nearly as fringe as BHO. The only "Moderate" Dem I know of is Joe Lieberman and what happened there? No longer a Dem.

As far as being nicer to "immigrants" you seem to have left out the ILLEGAL part. Hello? "Illegal Immigrants" are here illegally. That means immediate deportation in any other country in the world. Making illegal immigrants illegal is no different than letting bank robbers go free as long as they give back whatever stolen money they havn't spent yet.

Unbelievable.. you even managed to find a place for a black/racism insult in there too.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Statistics

This is why some of us yawn at all the statistics that people use to prove their point. Numbers can be bent to show whatever somebody wants them to. It's like the experts that lawyers call into court. One expert says one thing and the other says the opposite. The most conservative Democrat in our legislative representation would be the one that is not Chellie Pingree since that is the only other one. I'm not sure what that proves. Your statistics on Collins and Snowe only prove that the rest of the party has moved radically to the right since they were first elected and that Tea Party Republicans are fond of voting on the same measures over and over, see Obamacare. Seems to me that voting against the same Tea Party non-sense 38 times would affect your average. The Republican ladies also had the support of many Maine women who voted for them to support legislation that would be beneficial to women. Since the Tea Party has declared war on women that would also affect their average.

Mike Lachance's picture

Reporting of facts are why

Reporting of facts are why you yawn at statistics? (not surprising)
Numbers can be bent? ("expert opinions" can be bent, numbers are static)
Tea Party declared war on women? (really?, when? do you have a source for this reported event?)
Chellie Pingree is the most conservative Democrat in Maine?
Show me legislation that illustrates how the Republican Party has moved radically to the right. (vs 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago)
Your claim, while a convienient fantasy for political posturing, is simply untrue.

"Tea Party" Republicans were elected by people. They represent those people and are expected to vote as such. Have you looked at the approval numbers of "ObamaCare" by the general population in America? it is abysmal. Those who bring it to a voite are doing so at the request of hundreds of thousands (if not millions, collectively) of constituents. They should be commended for having the fortitude to do so.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Statistics

Well if you are really fond of statistics check out the popular approval statistics for the Federal House of Representatives where your Tea Party leaders are leading. Cherry picking statistics is still meaningless in my book.

Mike Lachance's picture

CNN Poll: Tea Party Approval Rating Jumps

May 20, 2013
CNN Poll: Tea Party Approval Rating Jumps To One Point Shy Of All-Time High In Wake Of IRS Scandal…

http://weaselzippers.us/2013/05/20/cnn-poll-tea-party-approval-rating-ju...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Funny

We saw the large turnout in DC, we got dizzy counting the 45 people.....10 times....

As one put in it in the blog of your zipper bible....there's a Armed March in Washington D.C....I think it is beyond impeachment...

Nut bags is a better name for T Party....

Whack Jobs on the road again....

Mike Lachance's picture

Nut Bags and Whack Jobs.

Nut Bags and Whack Jobs. Nice. So basically if someone doesn't agree with your political philosophy that's what you call them. Jerry, tell me: what does the Tea Party stand for? What does the movement want? Do you even know? Tell me yourself. I'm calling you out on this one. Name calling and insults don't do much to expose the human being we are supposed to assume you are. So tell us...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Agreeing in one thing....

Reading and watching those in the video and reading on the new zipper website you provided and others sites of TPotty: needs no more than watching them do themselves in....

as they say a picture or video tells a thousand words and the bloggers that spew the idiotic mantra of stupidity is enough proof for me that they are touched in the heads....

If you do not or cannot see the craziness in it all of that and in them, then don't waste my time trying to defend those YES whackjobs, nutbags, that belong in clinics and institutions.

Its not name calling or insults it is the truth....

Mike Lachance's picture

Amour-propre clair.

Amour-propre clair.

Mike Lachance's picture

Whose Tea Party leaders? And

Whose Tea Party leaders? And what is the Tea Party? Can you define "Tea Party"?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Tea people of the corn

Mike Lachance's picture

Really? So I guess if I go to

Really? So I guess if I go to a ghetto somewhere and interview a bunch of angry urban youth who support Obama that will define the Democrats or the Progressives! Excellent Idea. We can then use the video to show how out of touch the elected Democrat Senators and Representatives are!

I'm shamed by the superior intellect and advanced political rationality of others on these pages.

So, Jerry and Claire, let's hear it in your words... what does the Tea Party stand for?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Zipper Bible

Your faithful website explains it all what the T people are and what it doesn't explain exactly is what planet are they from? Better yet, when are they leaving and going home?

Talk about dumbrucks that are really off their rockers...some wanting death and saying lets pray...a lot like those in the video I gave you, or and there are so many more of those nutjobs with whacked out twisted comments...I say good that you have those types of followers, they keep the others like us knowing we are the sane ones....

Mike Lachance's picture

Jerry, every post you make is

Jerry, every post you make is insulting and name calling. Can you make a post without insulting and name calling those you don't agree with? Tell me in your own words.. What does the Tea Party stand for. What are their goals? Surely you can answer this simple question...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

They stand for...nothing but obstruction, they are irrelevant

What does the Tea Party stand for. What are their goals?

Obstruction....Obstruction...take no prisoners, no compromise....meaning they are worthless, except for the Kochs and Dick Armey and corporations, MONEY.....
They found a marching crown of puppets for their needs.....that is why they bus them from all over the country like in WI and other states under the TPotty logo....

Mike Lachance's picture

(typo to read: Making illegal

(typo to read: Making illegal immigrants legal)

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

In other words;

“The Republican Party was a successful party when we had a big, welcoming tent,” he said. “The level of vitriol I have witnessed and the circular firing squads I have seen among Republicans cannot stand.”

When you keep pissing inside your own tent, it becomes raunchy and people need a breath of fresh air and people find the exit door and other shelters, for it is time to throw it and them away.

The Grand Obsolete Party is imploding, eating its own with the TPotty. Mirroring the Dixiecrats and Whigs combined to an irrelevant posture for the future. People are tired of the attacks on the working class, the ones that built this country..

When all they know how to do is attack; woman's right, blacks for voter ID, voting rights on shutting down polls , keeping people poor with no health care, constantly wanting tax cuts for the rich and attacking gays and demoralizing the growing mass of latinos....they are bound to dissolve into the abyss of irrelevancy.

So we will be saying good riddance to LePage and others like him in very due time. The writing's is on the wall, they fail to see it....

Bob White's picture

Your a silly old man you and

Your a silly old man you and your dumbucrat
friends can only hope and dream that half the bull you fling here is true. Its to bad that in the real world people don't think your as intelligent as you do when you write your tall tales. Its funny how you accuse a party of keeping someone poor or without insurance. I want to know do you believe your own BS? I know I don't need any party Republican or Dumucrat to take care of my needs. I will do that thanks maybe more people should try.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Facts are not your strong suit Booby....

You think you are the only one that works and all the rest are lazy, that is your delusional mindset. Repubs IDEOLOGY: In other words, if you don't work, you shouldn't eat. That is why it is very difficult for a repubs to feel obligated to pay more taxes for health insurance for someone who they feel has a bad work ethic or who wants to over eat, smoke and chose not to be healthy.

You all think within your small bubble, that everyone falls into this same bucket. Yes you keep them poor because with no health care coverage to get well, to work ,to be productive for society, you want to keep them in oppression.

Yes. The needs of sick and dying Americans are being ignored and the US people are being politically manipulated to foster a small number of politicians' job security and bank accounts and Big Insurance.

Most people who are underinsured or uninsured today in the US are hard working, tax paying, currently employed people. Many have lost coverage due to the loss of a job during the economic crisis, but they are actively seeking employment, they aren't just lazy and wanting a free ride.

Repubs believe our Constitution strictly forbids the federal government's interference into our personal and economic decisions, including health care.

You see Booby it isn't funny, when I and others can accuse a party of pure ignorance beyond approach that's keeping people poor and without healthcare. It is bad for any economic recovery or a family's recovery or giving working people a chance in their lives to prove their worth, when it is as obvious as the nose on your face.

You want silly with a touch of delusional thinking Booby, take a hard look, a real hard look at yourself in the mirror....

Rreally, Jerr

You need to stop feeding the trolls who don't even know how to spell Democrat.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Home Schooled

His momma taught him at home under a matchstick...

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Keeping up

The governor has always been, up to now, a team player with the national Republican party and ALEC and the Heritage Foundation. He needs to keep up. The new talking points are aimed at broadening the base. According to Mr. Priebus they will now listen to opposing views instead of calling people names, stop putting down women every chance they get, stop looking like they don't care about people, stop looking like the party for the rich etc. Perhaps the governor just hasn't gotten around to reading the memos. It would seem the legislators are ahead of the curve.

Bob Wright's picture

you are abosuletly right Mr.

you are abosuletly right Mr. Mennealy, the people will speak.

Time for Some Fresh Air

It began with Dawn Hill’s procedural silencing of the governor at the Appropriations Meeting and hit a high note with the procedural rejection of LePage's budget veto. Many have had enough of a man, who is emotionally, intellectually, and politically unfit for governor. The door is now open for those who wish to venture out into the fresh air. It appears that Mr. Katz and Mr. Fredette are taking those first steps.

Bob White's picture

Well I must say I have had

Well I must say I have had some dealings with Mr. Katz and yes he seems to be a nice guy but that's his job. If you want a guy that is about politics well he's the man. He is the typical politicians tell you what you want to hear afraid to really stand up for what needs to be done. If you consider his way fresh air well I think your mistaken that is the sent of a familiar smell. Governor LePage may not be the scent your use to but that scent your use to has gotten us to this point.

Hopefully Mr Katz and Mr

Hopefully Mr Katz and Mr Fredette will have opponents in GOP primary..

Chris Blake's picture

Simple Logic

There's simple logic at work here:

He was elected with a minority, so you need to ask yourself did he grow that minority or play to it during his time in office? Sounds to me like most of his successes played to his minority and didn't do much to grow it with people outside of it. That doesn't bode well going into a race (if he runs).

Bob Wright's picture

I do not believe that LePage

I do not believe that LePage is losing relevance. I do believe people are getting fed up with tax and spenders, but I cannot talk for the people no more than can the LSJ or Bob Mennealy.

You certainly can't, Mr White

But you and your LePage loving ilk need to remember something: you are a minority. 38% is a plurality, but not a majority, and I can guarantee you it has gotten smaller. If it had been a 2 way race LePage would not be the governor we're complaining about.

Mike Lachance's picture

Baldacci won his last term

Baldacci won his last term with less votes (206,991) than LePage (216,761)... and the same 38% of the vote.

Not saying Baldacci's mandate

Not saying Baldacci's mandate was any stronger. Never even mentioned him. In fact, didn't vote for him, either.

Lepage 's political future++ relevance

Bob, the people will speak for themselves in November2014!

LePage losing relevance

Ithink he has already lost it;+he should lighten up for the waning days of his administration!

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