Lewiston activist Ben Chin on Friday called Gov. Paul LePage’s “wanted” poster of the Maine People’s Alliance leader a baseless “arts and crafts project.”

At a town hall meeting in Bath on Thursday night, the governor had unveiled three “wanted” posters targeting Chin, Matt Schlobohm of the Maine AFL-CIO and Nick Bennett of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, poking at all three for being “job killers.”

“It’s interesting that so many conservative wing nuts enjoy putting my face on their posters,” said Chin, the political engagement director at the Maine People’s Alliance who ran for Lewiston mayor last year.

During that mayoral campaign, a Lewiston landlord erected signs reading “Don’t Vote for Ho Chi Chin. Vote for more jobs not more welfare.” Chin’s grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from China.

Chin said people began texting him Thursday night after seeing the new poster. On it, he’s listed as being known for “raising taxes, expanding welfare, crushing businesses.”

“I guess I’m honored to be on the governor’s ‘wanted’ list,” Chin said. “I’m a little bit more concerned about raising the minimum wage so over 140,000 people in Maine can start making at least $12 an hour. But in the meantime, if all the governor has to do is make arts and crafts projects, that’s really all he has going on in his life, then I’m happy to continue being on his posters. And we’re going to keep doing things that actually benefit people.”

Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO from Greene, called it “more tasteless politics from Gov. LePage.”

“I think that ‘attack anyone who disagrees with you’ is really a tool to hide from a failed record,” Schlobohm said. “Because if you scratch below the surface of his bluster and blunder, you have a governor whose fundamental accomplishment is tax breaks for the wealthiest folks in the state while increasing property taxes and shifting costs to towns. You have a governor who refuses to respect the will of the voters on bonds and lots of other things, and you have a governor who’s been a constant embarrassment to the state of Maine and has never figured out how to move the state forward.”

Peter Steele, LePage’s communications director, said the posters were produced and paid for by the governor’s office — “within existing resources, just like all the posters that have been used for press conferences and events” — and that there might be more posters like them at future town hall meetings.

“The posters are used to illustrate who is blocking the governor’s efforts to move Maine from poverty to prosperity,” Steele said.

Chin, Schlobohm and Bennett were highlighted because “these three groups are among the most vocal, most organized and most active groups pushing anti-job agendas and twisting legislators’ arms in the State House,” Steele said.

The posters immediately drew criticism on Twitter and from Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett, who called them “deeply disturbing,” linking the imagery to violence against protesters at rallies for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, whom LePage has endorsed.

“With the violence we’ve been seeing at Trump rallies, it is imperative for all political leaders to dial down the rhetoric,” said Bartlett in a Thursday night statement. “It is not funny. It is irresponsible and dangerous.”

In a statement released Friday, House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe called the posters “at best childish and possibly even reckless in our current political climate.”

“When is the governor going to get serious about having a genuine dialogue with Maine people?” asked McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “What’s next? ‘Wanted’ signs for the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, AARP, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Hospital Association and Maine State Chamber of Commerce because they have spoken out against the governor’s political short-sightedness?”

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The Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.


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