Paul LePage says congressional hopeful Jared Golden 'has a lot to learn'

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LEWISTON — Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District is going to win a third term easily in November’s general election, Gov. Paul LePage said Monday.

LePage said Poliquin is “one of the hardest workers in Washington,” and deserves to come out on top in the Nov. 6 general election. The governor said he has no doubt Poliquin will do just that.

LePage spoke after at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Journey House, a housing and support program for people with substance-use disorder, in Lewiston. Substance-use disorder is defined as dependence on psychoactive drugs. 

LePage said Democrat Jared Golden, a state representative from Lewiston who is taking on Poliquin, “did not impress me in the Legislature” during the past four years.

The governor said Golden, the Democratic whip in the House, may have a future in Maine politics but is not going to pull off an upset against Poliquin this year.

“He has a long way to go,” the governor said, because he is so tied to a Democratic Party that wants to “give, give, give” without any fiscal accountability.

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The Democrats, including Golden, “have really failed the Maine people” on many critical issues, LePage said.

On the other hand, the governor said, it is “very, very good” that Golden served the nation in the U.S. Marines, where he logged combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. On his return, he attended Bates College, then worked for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and the Democrats in the House before his successful bid for a House seat.

What Golden needs now, LePage said, is more experience outside politics and the military.

If he gets it, Golden “has a good future,” LePage said. “He has a lot to learn.”

Golden is one of three candidates who hopes to knock Poliquin out of office in the largest district east of the Mississippi River, the only one in New England to favor Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The other contenders are independents Tiffany Bond of Portland and Will Hoar of Southwest Harbor.

The governor had harsher words for U.S. Sen. candidate Zak Ringelstein, whom he dismissed as somebody who will never represent Maine.

Ringelstein, a Democrat who spoke just before the governor, cited the need for “more recovery houses where people can get back on their feet” and for programs to provide safe injection sites and clean needles.

Ringelstein pointed out that 418 Mainers died of opioid overdoses last year — a problem Democrats accuse the governor of doing too little to address.

The candidate added, “Honestly, Gov. LePage, you belong in jail way more than anybody who’s struggling with addiction.”

LePage, when he spoke, told Ringelstein, “I find it very offensive to say I belong in jail.”

Facing Ringelstein, the governor said, “Sir, you will lose and you will lose badly.”

“We don’t need you in Washington,” LePage told the Yarmouth educator.

Ringelstein is one of two challengers angling to knock out U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term independent and former governor. Republican Eric Brakey of Auburn is also in the race.

LePage later said Ringelstein is never going to get anywhere in politics with such disrespectful talk.

LePage has occasionally ventured into less-than-polite descriptions of what to do with political opponents.

Several years ago, he allegedly told a passenger rail advocate that Lewiston’s entire legislative delegation, which included Golden, “should be rounded up and executed in the public square.”

LePage, a Lewiston native, is in the final year at the state’s helm after winning two gubernatorial elections.

He told the crowd at Journey House about growing up in a tough situation and the importance of “changing the environment” for people to succeed.

“I was on the streets of Lewiston at 11,” LePage said. “I lived down at a place called The Holly. Used to be called, ‘Be Jolly at the Holly.’ It was a strip joint on Main Street.”

For two years, he said: “I was on the street. I ran to the pharmacy for the girls,” and shined the shoes of men who came in.

The difference for him, he said, is that two families helped him, made sure he went to school and set him on the right path.

LePage said a place such as Journey House, which offers a place for recovering addicts to live, offers them “a step forward” and a chance to break away from the past and make a better future for themselves.

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After his speech at Monday morning’s grand opening of Journey House in Lewiston, Gov. Paul LePage said Jared Golden is too inexperienced and too liberal for Maine’s 2nd District and predicted U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin will easily win re-election. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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