Maine Democrats urge LePage to bag combative tone during State of the State address

AUGUSTA — Democratic lawmakers on Monday launched a volley of pre-emptive rhetoric against Gov. Paul LePage, urging the governor to shelve his combative tone during his State of the State address.

The news conference was unusual given that the minority party typically waits until after the State of State to respond to an address that often contains new policy initiatives. The timing of the media event was questioned by Republicans, who wondered if the event was designed to provoke a reaction from LePage when he addresses the Legislature on Tuesday evening.

Regardless, the political sparring that took place Monday reflected a partisan tone that hangs over the current legislative session and one that is certain to amplify as an important election approaches.

Democrats are expected to run against LePage during an election that could shift the balance of power in the Legislature. That left some Republicans wondering why Democrats were calling for the governor to become more collaborative.

"I don't want to speak ill of anyone over there," House majority whip Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, said. "But, if they did this to try to incite comments from (LePage) tomorrow that are confrontational, I think it would be unfortunate to try and manipulate the chief executive that way."

Democrats said they hoped LePage would shun his "extreme ideology and negativity" and propose "real solutions" to improve the state's economic climate.

"Too much time has been spent on distractions, on needless fighting, on baseless attacks, and on extreme policies that don’t create jobs, that don’t help working families and don’t strengthen our economy," said House minority leader Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono.

The news conference was attended by more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers. Democratic leaders stressed the governor's failure to create jobs, the state's loss of 4,400 jobs and a stagnant business climate.

Cain, who has said LePage and the GOP "left jobs on the table" when it shunned bonding last year, stressed the need for infrastructure spending.

"When our economy needed a shot in the arm, the governor and Republicans held public investment hostage, stalled our work on proven energy efficiency programs, tried to limit voting rights, made health care more expensive for many Mainers and ignored critical work force training initiatives that would help get more Maine people back to work," Cain said in a statement.

Assistant minority leader Rep. Teresea Hayes, D-Buckfield, said the governor may have contributed to the state's stagnant economic progress by frequently highlighting or exaggerating Maine's problems.

"The chief executive should be the promoter in chief," Hayes said. "Instead the governor and his allies have taken every opportunity to degrade our state."

Adrienne Bennett, the governor's spokeswoman, said the Democrats' critique was hypocritical and factually inaccurate. She highlighted a recent "productive" meeting between LePage and lead Democrats last Friday during which both sides talked about progress on the governor's proposed $220 million cuts at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“To come back 72 hours later and bash the governor, it’s just not productive," Bennett said. "They are doing exactly what they don’t want us to do."

It's unclear what the governor will discuss during his address Tuesday night. However, his frequent meetings with energy companies suggest he is preparing to unveil to a new energy policy. He has also hinted that he'll introduce education legislation that could include a "modified school choice" proposal.

The governor has spoken frequently about the need to expand the state's capacity for natural gas. The administration has also backed a bill that would allow the quasi-governmental Finance Authority of Maine to consider natural gas infrastructure projects to qualify for state-backed bonds.

As a party, Democrats have yet to take a position on the governor's natural gas strategy, in part, they say, because they haven't seen the details of his proposal. Sen. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, said Monday that natural gas should be part of the state's energy portfolio along with other renewable sources such as wind and tidal power.

 LePage has already spoken out against a citizens initiative that would increase a current mandate that power companies derive a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. The governor, who has called the policy "a scam," is expected to address his opposition to the initiative during his address.

 Hobbins and other Democrats said the governor should not dismiss the state's investments in energy efficiency and renewables. They cited a Brookings Institution survey that showed Maine has exceeded the national average in renewable energy job creation. The study showed that the state has created 12,212 jobs from the clean energy sector, including energy efficiency programs.

 "Initiatives and programs that put more money in the pockets of Maine people and business should not be threatened, instead we should help them thrive," Hobbins said.

 On Tuesday, the legislative session starts at 5 p.m. The House and Senate will convene in the House chamber around 6:30 p.m. for a joint convention. LePage is expected to address lawmakers around 7 p.m.

 The address will be televised live, starting at 7 p.m., on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

 smistler@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Jason Theriault's picture

Why?

Why is the State of the State the same day as the State of the Union. There is only so much bullshit I can take in a day.

 's picture

LePage

Maybe LePage was a bully...Peggy and Margaret do their jobs well...They are for the people...

 's picture

LePage

Oh and Mike does a good job too...He is also for the people...

Mike Lachance's picture

Michaud????? Seriously? Just

Michaud????? Seriously?
Just because his sappy tv and radio ads say he's for the people doent make it so.

 's picture

Mike

Mike Carey...Mike Michaud too... :-)

 's picture

But it is OK that Obama

But it is OK that Obama constantly uses a combative tone towards Republicans? LePage is a breath of freash air in a stench fill place like Augusta. The Democrats have never had the stomach for the truth. Suck it up.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

The only thing I will say on

The only thing I will say on this subject is that it would be nice to hear a State of the State that is factual, not intimidating, non bullying, non threatening. It would be nice if there were no "misstatements". It would also be nice if there is written proof to the words the Governor may speak.

As far as the democrats being combative and using bullying tactics, well, what's good for one is good for another. And yes I know Mike will probably have something to say about this but that's life.

Mike Lachance's picture

Tina, all I'll say is that

Tina, all I'll say is that youve noted that Dems DO act like bullies and are combative... which is my point... not that they SHOULDNT, but that the second a REPUB does the same all hell breaks loose and the REPUBS are called out and told to stop. Its such a glaring double standard... I'd say 96% of the political strife we have, as voiced by the conservative population in Maine is that the double standard needs to stop.

Let LePage make his speech. THEN complain about it. Complaining about a speech before anyone knows what it contains or before its made is just plain stupid. But trying to pressure the Gov., as such, beforehand, is simple manipulation.

So, Tina, I really dont disagree with you here, but the playing field is fair and the we all should play by the same rules. That includes debunking ALL the "non-factual" / fictitious statements made by Democrats.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Mike, I knew you wouldn't let

Mike, I knew you wouldn't let me down. However, in my opinion, the nonfactual/fictitious, misstatements made by the Governor is a big problem. He and the legislature are employed by the people of the state of Maine and yet they feel the need to lie to us. Unfortunately, Maine has no recall solution. My beliefs are not Democratic nor Republican. My problem is that as an employee of the people of the state of Maine, the Governor should not be setting a bad example for everyone. If he acted like he does in a regular job he would be reprimanded and/or fired for his behavior. The state is not Marden's, we do not have to worry that he will fire us if we do not stand for his bullying tactics. Maybe if he would just be factual and not put his interpretation into everything then he would get more support. And if the Democrats start bullying back then they are also wrong as 2 wrongs do not make it right. And if it upsets the Governor that the Democrats are starting to bully back then maybe he should "get out of the kitchen".

How about this....tell the facts, back the facts up with proof, and let people make their decisions accordingly. It would be a novel idea for politics.

Mike Lachance's picture

Well Tina, the entire premise

Well Tina, the entire premise of your protestations relies on nothing more than the position that Paul LePage is a habitual deliberate liar. This is it. This is the crutch of every position you have made.

That being said, it is my belief, and most people's belief, that LePage is none of the above.

However, the taking of any statement as an absolute literal, is such a common technique used by liberals, Democrats, and left-leaning so-called "independents" to attempt the discrediting and smearing of those who dont hold their own beliefs. I've had the tactic used against me, and ive seen it used against many.

The gist of it all, in the end, is that most conservative dont resort to this act of desperation, and therefore simply "put up" with it all...

If you seriously think LePage is deliberately lying on purpose over and over again... and not simply speaking in normal everyday ways, than I'm sorry to say, you will not have many agreeing with you. (although you'll have picked up a few like-minded wing-nuts here on the SJ pages)....

I believe you dont really think these things but are angry that the State of Maine might change in a way that could make your financial life more difficult. That would be fair. But your posts here are a bit fantastic.

I don not hold to the position he is lying, either delieberately or figuratively. I do believe you are grasping at straws to make political waves and stir up unrest against him.

If we took everything everybody said as absolutes, in full-literalness, we'd all be the liars you accuse LePage of being. Again, the double standard... used for one's own political gain.

Mike Lachance's picture

(and BTW, Tina, you're a good

(and BTW, Tina, you're a good sport and a great sparring partner. I must buy you lunch sometime. Your choice!)

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Mike, all I need for lunch is

Mike, all I need for lunch is a peanut butter and strawberry preserve sandwich. I am that simple. My whole argument is that if Governor LePage is speaking the truth then why not just state the facts, prove them and let people make their decisions. Why does it always seem to come down with threats and bullying and holding this program or that department hostage? If the FACTS support something then he shouldn't have to resort to other tactics.

 's picture

And Rotundo, Craven, Carey

And Rotundo, Craven, Carey are not full of "extreme ideology and negativity"? Give me a break.

Meanwhile, another day ticks by. The MaineCare hole, which Rotundo, Craven and crowd doesn't believe exists, just deepened.

This is going to be interesting. The city of Detroit runs out of cash this April. Maine may beat them.

Mike Lachance's picture

With demands that LePage to

With demands that LePage to get rid of "combative tone" they hold a combative press conference and follow it up with combative statements that are factually and categoricaly untrue. (in otherwords... LIES)

For a group that accuses everyone who disagrees with them of being liars and bullies, it is disturbing that they so plainly resort to lying and bullying themselves while trumpeting such accusations. (And LePage hasnt even made his specch yet!)

This is a glaring example of the hypocrisy and below-the-belt tactics used by those who proclaim themselves above reproach. Moreover its a veiled attempt at manipulation and bullying the Governor into making a sheepish and lackluster speech. (Something his predecessor seemed to excel at)...

They are giving themselves their own fabricated excuse to attack the Governor if he gives anything BUT a sheepish speech. Rolling eyes and shaking of heads do not suffice when one considers what is going on here and why this press conference was held.

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