By and large, Gov. Paul LePage is getting a positive response from the business community for his "red tape removal audit," a statewide series of forums between the governor and business leaders designed to address Maine's regulatory climate.
But LePage isn't the only Republican governor conducting so-called red tape reviews. Nor the first.
LePage has said burdensome and redundant state regulations were strangling business and job growth in Maine. Last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made the same claim after signing an executive order creating that state's Red Tape Review Commission.
"For far too long, New Jersey residents have been faced with layers of burdensome rules and regulations that make it difficult and expensive for New Jersey’s businesses to succeed," Christie said in an October press release.
LePage recently told the Bloomberg news service that he wanted to be "Chris Christie of Maine." He's not alone. It appears 12 Republican governors elected in November have similar aspirations, at least when it comes to red tape.
All 12, including LePage, have vowed to dismantle burdensome regulations in their coming terms. Several have commissioned red tape committees similar to those marshaled by LePage and Christie, while others have signed executive orders or proposed legislation that tackles their states' regulatory burden through relaxed regulation or restructuring.
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker in December announced plans to make all rules for state agencies clear his desk. Last week, LePage signed an executive order mandating that he approve all new rules for state agencies.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett made similar vows on the campaign trail, holding red tape review meetings with local business leaders.
LePage's regulatory agenda has other interesting parallels to his Republican peers. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott recently appointed a prominent businessman to head that state's Department of Environmental Protection.
Scott told local news outlets that the appointment was designed to create a friendlier relationship between the DEP and businesses. LePage made a similar statement when he appointed Livermore Falls developer Darryl Brown as Maine's DEP commissioner.
The similar agendas and methodology might lead some to think that LePage and his Republican peers are using the same playbook. However, Dan Demeritt, LePage's communications director, said the governor’s interest in eliminating red tape and the audits that are being held "are his own."
In November, LePage and other GOP governors-elect attended a Republican Governors Association convention in California.
The RGA and its counterpart, the Democratic Governors Association, typically play a large role in gubernatorial elections by providing cash, messaging ideas and other resources. The RGA also runs the Governors Alliance to support GOP governors with "exclusive" policy briefs, as well as an intranet site for governors to exchange ideas.
A spokeswoman for LePage did not respond to a request asking whether the governor is a member of the alliance or receives briefings from the group.
Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the RGA, did not respond to several requests for comment.