Maine lawmakers miss chance to publicly censure LePage

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Democratic lawmakers in Maine may have missed their chance to publicly censure Gov. Paul LePage, the firebrand Republican leader who made headlines last month for leaving an expletive-laden voicemail on a political foe’s phone and claiming the state’s drug problems are chiefly fueled by minorities coming across the state line.

According to a Bangor Daily News report, a “partial alliance” involving elected Democrats and Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, dissolved ahead of Labor Day weekend, effectively canceling the opportunity to hold a special legislative session that would have given lawmakers a public forum to condemn LePage.

Thibodeau told the newspaper he would not be offering the required co-authorization needed to conduct such a session, saying GOP senators are against impeaching LePage and that he refuses to engage in a “circus.”

Thibodeau, who has presided over the Maine Senate since December 2013, has had a rocky relationship with LePage over the years, starting in 2015 when he went across the political aisle to pass a state budget over a LePage veto.

Had LePage resigned or had lawmakers voted to impeach him, Thibodeau would have been first in line to fill the governor’s position.

Thibodeau had earlier called for a “corrective action” following LePage’s incidents.

LePage has stirred controversy over his insistence that Maine’s opioid epidemic is chiefly fueled by blacks and hispanics driving in from out-of-state.

“Nobody wants to listen,” LePage told the State House News Service in Boston during an interview at New England governors’ conference. “What I said was this: Meth lab arrests are white. They’re Mainers. The heroin-fentanyl arrests are not white people. They’re Hispanic and they’re black and they’re from Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn. I didn’t make up the rules. That’s how it turns out. But that’s a fact. It’s a fact. What? Do you want me to lie?”

LePage also drew criticism after he said he wished he could challenge a Democratic lawmaker to a duel. The Republican governor was reportedly enraged after believing that state Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westboro, had labeled him as a racist.

The duel comment to reporters was delivered after LePage left Gattine an expletive-laden voicemail.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” he can be heard saying in the recording, the audio of which later made national news. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You — I need you to — just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

LePage later apologized to Gattine but vowed to never speak again to the press.