AUGUSTA — The two men who want to give Maine’s State of the State Address in 2015 held little back as they blasted Republican Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday.
“The state of the state is no better than it was when he was elected,” said Eliot Cutler, an independent candidate for governor from Cape Elizabeth. “Indeed, it’s worse and it’s gotten worse year by year since he’s been in office.”
Despite LePage’s claim Tuesday that his administration has driven down the unemployment rate and created 13,000 jobs, Maine’s economy is lagging behind the rest of New England and the rest of the U.S., Cutler said.
“He quoted a couple of statistics tonight to buttress his case that he’s succeeded,” Cutler said. “But it’s awfully hard to claim to Maine people that you’ve succeeded when so many Maine people have to work two or three jobs just to get by.”
He said Maine remains third from the bottom among the states in job creation.
Wages and income in Maine are 40 percent below the New England average and 25 percent below the national average, Cutler said.
“This isn’t victory and Maine people can see that,” Cutler said. “He still hasn’t shown us a vision. He still hasn’t described a real plan, a strategy.”
Democrat Mike Michaud, Maine’s 2nd District U.S. congressman, also deconstructed LePage’s past three years in office.
“Unfortunately, for the past three years Gov. LePage has used the power of his office to divide our state and to pit Mainer against Mainer for political gain,” Michaud said in a prepared statement released in advance of the speech. “He’s allowed ideology and partisanship to stand in the way of progress and opportunity for hardworking families.”
Michaud on Tuesday was meeting with President Barack Obama, according to a news release from his campaign. Michaud was urging Obama to use his executive powers to enforce a law that requires military uniforms to be made in the U.S. according to the release.
Michaud took LePage to task for his selection of Cabinet members, including some who were former industry lobbyists. He also challenged the governor for not participating in the current budget debate by offering a supplemental budget for lawmakers to work on this session.
“Gov. LePage has outsourced governance to lobbyists for polluters and big corporations,” Michaud said, “and he’s refused to do his job with the state budget or to hold accountable members of his administration who have let Maine down.”
He said the governor should be in a position to unite lawmakers across party lines.
“It’s time that we return to the Maine way,” Michaud said, “where Democrats, Republicans and independents can work together to move our state forward. That’s the kind of leadership Maine deserves.”