LePage launches official bid for second term

Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Gov. Paul LePage announces Tuesday he will seek a second term in Augusta. The Republican governor officially launched his re-election bid one year before voters will decide the race.

AUGUSTA — Touting his actions over his words, Republican Gov. Paul LePage said Tuesday he would seek a second term.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage greets supporters following a speech Tuesday in Augusta where LePage announced he was seeking another term in office.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

A bumper sticker on the back of a supporter during Gov. Paul LePage's announcement Tuesday expresses a new campaign theme that plays on LePage's frequent controversial statements.

Before a raucous crowd of supporters at a local community center, LePage hit on the highlights of his past three years in office, including his focus on eliminating domestic violence, prosecuting welfare cheats and reducing state government.

"If you want to use the state for your personal gain, I'm not your guy," LePage said.

He took a not-so-veiled shot at his two best-known opponents, independent Eliot Cutler and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat. Both men have extensive backgrounds working in the nation's capitol.

"If you believe our kids and Maine's future prosperity is too important to leave to Washington-trained politicians, I ask you to stand with me," LePage said.

Three speakers took the lectern before LePage to tout his achievements in what would be a display of cross-partisan support for LePage.

“I never expected to be standing in front of you today, but I am honored to be, because I feel like I am here standing up against domestic violence, as we all should," Theresa Dempsey said, noting that she and her children are survivors of domestic violence. "Paul LePage has helped and touched my family, as well as many others, because of his support of domestic-violence prevention."

LePage later said he would work to "eradicate" domestic violence. His efforts at prevention, awareness and law reforms have been a hallmark of his first term in office.

Cyndy Robbins, a Poland Spring businesswoman, said she was a registered Democrat and had contributed to Michaud's last campaign for Congress but was now solidly behind LePage.

"Paul left a big position at Marden's to become the lowest-paid governor in America and serve the people of Maine — I'm glad he did," Robbins said. "From cutting red tape to regulation reform to lowering taxes to just changing the culture of how government now treats business, Paul LePage is working for Maine."

It was a theme that was echoed throughout the course of the event — and one that's bound to be a campaign talking point. 

LePage went back to some of his original campaign standards, including a rhyme he uses to explain how he pulled himself from domestic violence and poverty as a child.

"If it is to be, it's up to me," LePage said to a round of applause.

The audience in the intimate gym of the Buker Community Center, not far from the Blaine House, was estimated by campaign staff to be approaching 650, but news reporters in attendance estimated the group to be between 350 and 450.

"I gave money back with the largest tax cut in Maine history — incentivizing jobs and cutting taxes up," LePage said. "When Maine’s poorest workers file their taxes, they’ll see a virtual elimination of income tax because it’s important to give a hand up — not just a handout."

Another theme that emerged Tuesday was one that gets at the various controversial statements LePage has made over his first three years in office.

"His actions speak louder than any words," Rick Bennett, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, told the crowd. 

LePage opened his speech with a similar statement in French saying, "Les actes sont plus éloquents que les paroles."

Proud of his Franco-American heritage, LePage often uses a French line or two in his speeches, and is quick to remind Mainers that French was his first language.

Bennett also praised LePage's efforts to see the state pay off more than $184 million in debt it owed hospitals for past-due Medicaid payments.

"He didn’t complain; he fixed it," Bennett said. "He paid it back, all of it — and he did it without raising taxes."

LePage also leaned on the idea that he is a businessman first and not a politician and touted a lower unemployment rate than when he took office.

He said the difference in the rate meant more than 7,000 jobs had been created since he took office.

"I came to the governor's office from a background in business," LePage said. "I'm not a smooth-talking politician. With reforms, we have created jobs — thousands of jobs."

At least one supporter in the audience agreed. A bumper sticker plastered on her back read: "Better LePage with his foot in his mouth than a slick politician with his hand in my pocket."

But LePage's opponents were quick to note what they saw as his serious shortcomings, including LePage's ability to be a firebrand who can alienate and offend.

"Gov. LePage is a skilled politician who can excite his tea party base, but we know that Mike is the strongest candidate in this race and momentum for his campaign continues to build," Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said. "Maine voters are ready for a governor they can be proud of."

Cutler, the independent challenger, said LePage had some good ideas.

"Some of the things he wanted to do made sense, but he got in his own way and couldn't get them done," Cutler said.

Cutler was critical of the semi-private and staged nature of LePage's announcement Tuesday and its timing on Election Day.

While media were invited, other guests were required to have tickets to enter the venue. All of the speeches, including LePage's, went off without distraction.

LePage did not take questions from reporters following the event. His handlers even chastised reporters who attempted to approach him following the speech as he mingled with supporters.

"He's hiding behind other news, and he's hiding behind a wall of rules that's preventing anybody who wants to go there to go, and he's preventing anybody who wants to ask him a question from asking him a question," Cutler said.

He attacked LePage's theme that "actions speak louder than words."

"What speaks louder than both actions and words are results," Cutler said. "Results and performance, and when you test Paul LePage against both results and performance, this is a failed administration. We are still 50th in the Forbes ranking, our economy is running behind every other state in New England and behind the national average."

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

So much harm he planned to do and you all have your blinders on

Rural hospitals, prescription aid for seniors suffer cuts in LePage’s proposed budget.

LePage flat-funds education in proposed budget riddled with cuts

LePage’s proposed budget eliminates tax revenue shared with towns and cities.

LePage budget doesn’t fully use ‘zero base’ he hoped to introduce.

LePage orders $35.5M in temporary state spending cuts, including $12.6M in school aid.

The LePage administration is preparing to submit legislation that would conform the state tax code with federal tax code changes. Reconciling Maine tax code to federal changes could cost state $81 million.

The list goes on and on and on just like the energy bunny, where LePage wants to rob Peter to pay Paul and screw the working taxpaying people of Maine....

Bob White's picture

You people need to stop

You people shouldn't talk about our President like that. Just because he's been caught in a bunch of lies its not time to turn your backs.

Ann Power's picture

wrong

News Flash, he's not our President

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

But contraire` Ann

God allowed him to win....so unless you live outside the US or plan on giving up your citizenship, you are correct, he is not your President.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

His idea of going after welfare cheats.............

Screw everyone, and just maybe he'll snag a couple of them cheaters..........

AL PELLETIER's picture

Sounds like a bag of wind to me.

If he's done so much for the people of Maine, why has my property tax bill gone up $300.00 a year? He's done absolutely nothing to help us retired seniors survive in an already tough economy.
His policies have discouraged businesses, such as off shore wind farms, from creating good paying jobs in Maine, instead we're getting low paying call center jobs.
Paying off the hospitals was just a matter of transferring liquor contract funds to the Mainecare debt. No big deal there!
He created 7,000 new jobs? GIVE ME A BREAK!! We still lag miles behind the national job increase since Obama took office.
He plans to "eliminate domestic violence "? I guess he thinks he has a great big "S" on his chest. Domestic violence is a sorry fact of life. We can try to reduce it but "eliminating" it is only political rhetoric.
He has spent more money to pay welfare cheat cops then money he has saved the state by catching welfare cheats.
And if he wants to reduce state government he should start by firing his daughter.
How can any Mainer with an once of brain put up with his BS and foul mouth for another 4 years? Got me.

Property Taxes are Decided by Your Town

Hi Al,

Property tax levels are a decision made on the local level by municipal governments, and Governor LePage has no control over what your elected municipal officials decide to do on that matter.

If you object to your property taxes increasing, that should be a matter you take up with your local officials.

AL PELLETIER's picture

WRONG ERIC!

Lepage put the kybosh on state municipal sharing and killed the circuit breaker program. Property taxes went up to compensate and surplus tax refunds went away. Please tell me your not riding on his wagon train.

Revenue Sharing

Hi Al,

The revenue sharing proposal you are referring to was rejected by the Maine Legislature, so there were no cuts in revenue sharing.

If your town choose to raise your property taxes, it wasn't because they lost revenue sharing, because they didn't.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Non the less lePage planned to hurt the property owners and more

Stopping revenue-sharing payments to cities and towns would save $98.9 million each in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, according to the governor’s office.

The $6.3 billion proposal also eliminates the homestead property tax exemption and circuit breaker program for everyone except people older than 65 and veterans.

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, who with other legislative leaders and Appropriations Committee members, was briefed about the budget Friday by Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett and other LePage administration commissioners, called the proposal a $400 million tax shift to property taxpayers.

Millett said he and staff worked late into Thursday night to complete the budget proposal, so he had not spoken to municipal officials or representatives of the Maine Municipal Association about the proposals.

“It would be devastating,” Eric Conrad, communications director for the MMA, said. “If it comes to pass, that would mean significant cuts to police, fire, road maintenance and schools.”

LePage’s proposed budget eliminates tax revenue shared with towns and cities all amounts to poor management and bad leadership for Maine all together.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/11/politics/proposed-state-budget-cut...

RONALD RIML's picture

Al - Watch out for Achey Brakey

Poor Achey Brakey got all unglued when I asked him once if he signed that check Uncle Sam could cash with his life. He replied:

"Ronald, your comments are simultaneously incoherent, disparaging, gratuitous, and rude. I will not engage in debate with people who simply want to roll around in the mud."

So he thinks talking with us Vietnam Vets is like rolling around in the mud. But he loves draft dodging LePage.

That give us a good clue where that Jody is coming from. POS

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

AL, you got it right

Nothing here but an out-of-control eight year-old. He will not pursue welfare cheats because they are his supporters; the speaker of the house for example.

Marc Eves?

Marc Eves?

Yawn!

Yawn!

RONALD RIML's picture

Yawning a sign you need oxygen, Boy.

Deprivation of that screws up your brain just as well; as we noticed.

my brain is normal, those on

my brain is normal, those on the left like you have the small warped pea size brain. I'm not sure jerry even has a brain.

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