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Boston Globe Column on Paul LePage: “An Old Political Bully Who Can’t Learn New Tricks”

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A new column in the Boston Globe details the many hurdles  “combative, racially antagonistic Republican bully boy” Paul LePage faces as he desperately attempts to resurrect his political career from the ashes of his failed leadership decisions. One particular hurdle LePage faces is his “unflappable, non-nonsense” opponent, Gov. Janet Mills, who after 8 years of disasters from the LePage administration, turned the state around and fulfilled promises like expanding Medicaid to 81,000 Maine residents after LePage refused to do so.

The other significant obstacle standing in the way of Paul LePage’s comeback? Paul LePage. The 8 years of chaos that marked LePage’s time as governor are his own worst enemy, and his many failures are still etched in the memory of Mainers, who remember LePage as “a jerk” who “spread a lot of hatred and division,” “doesn’t favor us working people,” and whose time in office was “too much of a circus.” 

Instead of trying to recover from his past mistakes, LePage has launched his campaign with the same “ill-tempered, obnoxious, bigoted behavior” that the people of Maine are too well acquainted with. He’s up to the same antics as before, but this time, the people of Maine aren’t buying LePage’s dangerous style of politics.

Read the full column here and see key excerpts below:

Boston Globe: An old political bully can’t learn new tricks

Paul LePage, the combative, racially antagonistic Republican bully boy from Maine’s past, is running for governor again, hoping to oust low-key, results-oriented Janet Mills, whom Mainers turned to in 2018 after eight years of tumult brought on by the man who proudly prefigured Trump-style politics.

LePage drew a sizable crowd of conservative enthusiasts to the Augusta Civic Center last week to hear him announce his return to the political area. But what might be called the Return LePage movement shouldn’t be mistaken for representing majoritarian Maine. It’s important to recall that LePage came to office with only 37.6 percent of the vote and that, even running for reelection as incumbent in a recovering economy, he couldn’t get to 50 percent.

LePage doesn’t yet have a Republican primary rival. But he does have an opponent who could prove every bit as tough as the unflappable, no-nonsense Mills.

Who, exactly? His own doppelganger. That is, the memory of the temperamental man-child’s years in office (2011-2019). Mainers I talked to in South Portland this week had little interest in seeing the former governor return.

“I don’t like him. He’s a jerk,” said Judy, 69, a cafeteria worker, who declined to give her last name. “He doesn’t favor us working people.”

That’s an understandable interpretation, certainly. LePage, after all, did his energetic best to keep Maine from adopting expanded Medicaid coverage, with its generous federal reimbursement offered under the Affordable Care Act. Even after almost 60 percent of Mainers essentially instructed him to do so via a ballot question, he refused. Mills has gotten it done, which has meant health care for another 78,000 low-income Maine residents.

It was LePage’s manner and character that others most remembered — and objected to.

Tom Bartholomew, 64, a supermarket warehouse worker, said LePage’s inability to control his temper had rendered his time in office “too much of a circus.”

“To me, a leader has to have control over himself,” said Bartholomew, a Democrat who said he votes the person, not the party.

An early-60s couple I spoke with outside a Hannaford supermarket was more emphatic.

“He spread a lot of hatred and division,” said Ellie Chatto, a ticket-splitting Democrat who works for a small nonprofit. “He spoke rudely and crudely of those in the Legislature.”

[…]

Reelected, LePage continued along in his familiar bombastic, racially divisive, bullying form. And he embarked on a course of vetoing all Democratic legislation in an attempt to force the Legislature to help in his effort to eliminate the state income tax — a quixotic quest that’s part of his comeback campaign.

So Carl is exactly right: We’ve seen this all before.

Maine, don’t get fooled again.