Maine is no exception to the wave of teabagging that is attempting to thoroughly brainwash and indoctrinate the nation, not to mention dumb us down so that in time, America will become a third world country complete with God, guns, and little else. Although we do maintain a proud tradition as a center left state, we also have plenty of wingnuts who just don't know when to give up. These people have managed to sneak the disastrous and ironically named Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR) onto the ballot three times since 2004 (thankfully, it was defeated each time) and even managed to defeat same sex marriage last year. This year, delegates at the Maine Republican convention approved a Tea Party platform by a rather hefty margin. The platform includes such doozies as a "return to Austrian economics," teaching creationism in public schools, and of course, "states' rights!"
Putting aside the troubling image of Maine as the "South of the North," Maine Republicans also nominated a gubernatorial candidate in keeping with their laughably absurd manifesto. His name is Paul LePage.
LePage is currently the mayor of Waterville. He loves to boast about the following: That he is serving his third term as mayor of one of the most Democratic cities in the state, that he has cut property taxes by 13% and increased city revenue in the process, and that he has done these things in spite of a truly hostile (and of course, overwhelmingly liberal) city council that is loath to everything LePage wants to accomplish.
In truth, the position of mayor in Waterville is a wholly ceremonial position that essentially involves nothing more than cutting ribbons. It is the city manager who writes the municipal budget and tax code, not the mayor. The mayor has no veto power over the budget. There is really no major difference between presiding over the Waterville city council and sitting behind the governor's desk, especially seeing as Maine's next governor will have to submit a new two year budget almost immediately upon taking office in the midst of a tough economy and a major budget shortfall except, well... everything.
LePage is the general manager of Marden's, a salvage store here in Maine that is famous for its endlessly corny ads featuring the woman we collectively call the "Maaaaaaahhhhhhhhden's Lady." The corollary to this is the highly predictable and illogical wingnut's pledge to run government just like business. As you know, running government and business is apples and oranges. The top priority of any successful business is to increase the profit margins, while a government's priority is to look out for their constituents. LePage even pledges to go down to Kittery upon being elected and take down the sign on I-95 that says "Welcome to Maine, The Way Life Should Be" and replace it with a sign saying "Maine: Open For Business."
In the midst of his rise to prominence in this state, he has shown himself to be a prick, as evidenced by this voicemail that he left to a Bill Beardsley supporter during the primary (text in the block):
LEPAGE: This is Paul LePage calling, Candidate for Governor. I understand that you're spreading some pretty damaging lies about me and I'd like to talk to you about it... I think you ought to be playing fair on the campaign. We all have our own positions, but to promote falsehoods, I mean, I could do the same thing, I haven't done it at this point, but I can do the same thing to your candidate. Thank you, bye bye.
While LePage does not threaten physical harm here, he does go out of his way to present himself as a candidate who is above the fray and will take the high road... even as he was calling up a Beardsley supporter to bitch about "pretty damaging lies" and doing "the same thing to your candidate." We all know that right wing hypocrisy knows no bounds, but to actually complain to a supporter of another campaign while claiming you are a man of integrity and character? Wow.
But wait, it gets better. In an interview with Portland radio station WGAN in July, LePage complained that Maine Democrats who had labelled him as a creationist had only done so because LePage is French Catholic. As is often the case when a wingnut makes an outrageous statement in a public forum and is actually called on it, when co-host Ken Altshuler followed up on it, LePage got defensive:
On Thursday, LePage said he believes Manning [Arden Manning, Maine Democratic Party's campaign director] and the Democrats labeled him as a creationist because of his background and religious beliefs. During primary debates, LePage indicated he would support the teaching of creationism in schools.
Replied LePage: "I have looked at my life, I have looked at my career. There is nowhere in my career where the term creationist comes in. The only part of my life ... that anyone can ever consider me a creationist is because I am a French Catholic and I believe in God."
After another go-around, Altshuler eventually asked LePage whether he was interpreting Manning’s labeling him as a creationist as saying, "you are not qualified to be governor because you are a Franco-American Catholic."
"That’s what I’m saying," LePage said.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You were called a creationist because of things you actually said? I mean, Arden Manning of the Maine Democratic Party did say that you are "an unabashed agent of the Christian right." Could this be why? Say it ain't so. Take it away, Bill Nemitz:
Question 2: When are you going to stop giving diametrically opposed answers to the same question?
Again, the creationism thing.
Back in May, at an MPBN forum for GOP primary candidates, you were asked, "Do you believe in creationism and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?"
You replied, "I would say the more education you have, the more knowledge you have, the better person you are. And I believe yes ... and yes."
Now stop me if I'm making too big a leap here, but I take that to be a "yes" (actually, a "double-yes").
Fast forward to last weekend. Reminded by those pesky reporters that you said you supported teaching creationism in public schools, you replied, "I never said such a thing. That's what he (Arden Manning) said."
Finally, during your Thursday appearance on WGAN, you said, "Creationism should be taught in schools under philosophy. Evolution should be taught in schools under science."
So, as they say on the TV game show, is that your final answer? And might we infer that you now support adding "philosophy" to the already crowded Maine school curriculum?
So now we're not allowed to analyze things you actually say, because that means we're mocking Franco-Americans/Catholics? I'm a Franco-American too, Paul, and I wouldn't vote for you if a sheriff with a shotgun in his lap at the voting booth told me to at gunpoint (you know, kind of like in the Old South that you and your teabagging ilk seem so interested in transforming Maine into). And while we're at it, why do we send Mike Michaud back to Congress every two years if we are so against French Catholics? Would you care to explain that one?
And about that creationism that you support, seriously. Don't we have enough violence in our public schools without introducing religion into the fray? Don't we already have enough hate crimes and fights over things like sexual orientation? Teaching creationism in public schools is counter to the First Amendment, as it is an endorsement of religion. You see Paul, everyone has the right to not be religious as they so please. Public schools are secular institutions for a reason. Let students practice religion on their own time, but in the meantime, let's stick with the three R's (you know, reading, writing, 'rithmetic) that you wingnuts seem to have so much trouble with.
Like all of his fellow teabaggers, LePage has nothing but utter contempt for Sarah Palin's "lamestream media." So much so, that he actually wants all questions from reporters submitted in writing in the same old tired "they're not being nice to me!" act. This was in response to a hailstorm of negative press LePage received as a result of an ill fated midcoast whistle stop tour in which he mocked the age of his Democratic opponent, Libby Mitchell (she's 70 going on 50). The whole episode inspired this online ad from Maine Democrats. By the way Paul, Mitchell may be 70, but is that a smoker's rasp I hear from you? I don't know if anyone has told you this, Paul, but cigarettes are bad for your health. Really bad. In other words, Mitchell may be 70, but I'm frankly a little more concerned about YOUR health than hers.
Arguably the most offensive LePage position of all is his stance on offshore drilling. When asked during a Republican debate back in May whether he would support offshore drilling in the Gulf of Maine, LePage simply said, "Yes."
Here in Maine, we enjoy some of the most pristine waters in the world, along with some of the finest seafood and beautiful ocean views. It is the single biggest driver of Maine's summer tourism. The fact that LePage would even consider risking another Deepwater Horizon disaster, thus ruining summer tourism and putting struggling Maine lobstermen out of business for good, is just about the most obscene thing any candidate anywhere could support. I love Maine's coast and waters. I enjoy a good lobster as much as anyone. I support expanding our efforts in the areas of wind and solar energy (including offshore wind), but supporting drilling in the Gulf of Maine, to me, is downright sinful.
Maine can not afford a Paul LePage administration. For all his talk about cutting taxes and bringing business to Maine, the fact remains that young people bolting our state at the first opportunity has become a full blown pandemic. Seeing as the overwhelming majority of young people vote Democratic these days, I don't like a right wing extremist's chances of keeping those young people around. In fact, he will only make this problem worse. We are already the oldest state in the country (median age: 40.7 years). The purpose of this diary is to keep tabs on LePage for all Maine users on DKos, as well as to inform all of those from out of state about how toxic our Republican candidate for governor really is. LePage absolutely has to be defeated. Our future as a state may well depend on it.