Despite working with 2nd Congressional District candidate Jared Golden this year to help returning military medics, Republican Gov. Paul LePage assailed the Lewiston Democrat on Thursday as a partisan do-nothing.

On July 10, Gov. Paul LePage said Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, was too inexperienced and too liberal for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. He predicted U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, will easily win re-election. (Sun Journal file photo)

Speaking on Portland radio station WGAN, LePage said Golden told “a bald-faced lie” in a radio advertisement that mentioned their cooperation on legislation.

But the record shows the pair teamed up as recently as this past summer to get a law on the books to streamline the state licensing process for medics leaving military service.

After LePage rejected a bill that Golden pushed through the Legislature to make it easier for retiring military medics to secure a state license, Golden read LePage’s July 2 veto letter carefully and decided the governor’s objections had merit.

He reached out to LePage and asked if the governor wanted to offer a special measure that addressed his concerns rather than letting the issue drop entirely.

“I see no reason why it could not easily pass both the House and Senate in a single day to be placed on your desk in the form that you support,” Golden wrote on July 5. He offered to sponsor the governor’s version or to let a Republican colleague serve as sponsor.

“That sounds like a plan,” responded Julie Rabinowitz, the governor’s press secretary, in a July 6 email provided by Golden’s campaign.

LePage took him up on the deal and allowed Golden to serve as the House sponsor of the governor’s bill.

Legislators approved the new version without a hitch and it’s now state law.

Golden said at the time, “I really appreciate the governor’s commitment to creating opportunities for returning service members to get good jobs in Maine.”

Democratic congressional candidate Jared Golden of Lewiston was in his hometown Thursday with Maine housing advocates to announce the roll out of a $4 million state lead abatement program. Golden, a state representative, spearheaded the legislation creating the program. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

“We don’t agree on everything, but we worked together on this, and veterans who need to make the transition back to civilian life will benefit,” Golden said. “This is how politics should work for the good of the people. He really did the right thing, as he and his wife often have for Maine’s veterans.”

Despite the cooperation between the two just four months ago, LePage took to the airwaves Thursday to blast Golden as “an empty suit” who “has done nothing” during his four years in Augusta.

Golden responded, “It seems the governor is letting partisanship block his ability to share in credit for doing something good.”

In his talk on the radio, LePage said Golden will lose handily in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican. Polls indicate Poliquin is in one of the closest races in the country, but LePage said he believes the two-term incumbent “wins rather easily.”

Golden had a rocky relationship with the governor from the start. In his first year in Augusta, LePage included the rookie lawmaker among a group who “should be shot” for pushing passenger rail service to the Lewiston-Auburn community.

It’s not the first time the governor has ripped into Golden, the Democratic whip in the Maine House.

Back in May, during a visit to Lewiston, LePage said, “Golden says the Marines taught him to always get the job done. I have no doubt that he made a fine Marine, and I thank him for his service to our country.”

“But in Augusta, Golden has not gotten the job done — not by a long shot,” LePage said at the time.

LePage ripped into Golden this week because he heard a radio advertisement citing Golden’s efforts to work with the governor.

LePage said Golden came to his office once in four years to talk about how to address student debt and a military-related issue that he didn’t specify, possibly the licensing law for former military medics.

On the student debt issue, LePage said, “we were so far apart” on what to do that “we were not able to work on it. And that was the end of the gig.”

LePage said Golden’s use of that unsuccessful effort as an example of cooperation across party lines “is a bald-faced lie.”

But Golden said the record shows he’s worked successfully with LePage on a couple of veterans issues.

The governor said Golden has merely done his party’s bidding and voted with the Democratic leadership 99.9 percent of the time.

LePage said Golden has not delivered “any meaningful legislation.”

Hours later, at a ceremony in Lewiston, Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, told a small crowd that Golden successfully led the effort to create a $4 million state lead-abatement program that will help prevent children in Maine from getting lead poisoning.

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