In a rambling, 15-minute speech at an event Tuesday for a Republican candidate for the Maine House of Representatives, Gov. Paul LePage renewed his ongoing feud with Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, attacked rank-and-file Republicans, warned that there are troubling signs for the state’s economy and touched on a range of other topics.
Pre-empting news he says he will make later this week, LePage said that he intends to call on Mills to resign as attorney general.
“You’re going to hear this week that I’m going to come out and ask Janet Mills to either resign as attorney general or take a leave of absence,” LePage said on the video, which was broadcast live on Facebook and has since been taken down after publication of this blog.
“She is no longer acting as an attorney general and she hasn’t been for weeks,” LePage continued. “She is running her office like a campaign headquarters, and I’m going to call her out on it.”
Mills has consistently stood up to LePage as attorney general, refusing to represent the governor in bogus legal arguments that her office believes either violate the law or the Constitution. Instead, the governor has relied on outside counsel to defend his actions, such as his refusal to implement Medicaid expansion.
The governor said Mills should be thrown out of office for refusing to defend him. The courts have disagreed.
LePage has been perfectly willing to use his office for political gain, using his official radio address to attack both Mills and House Majority Leader Jared Golden and politicking hard against ballot initiatives that he doesn’t like. Hypocrisy much?
In addition to going after Mills and acting as an attack dog for Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody, who the governor spoke kindly of on the video, the governor fired a few shots at his fellow Republicans in the Legislature around the minimum wage.
“Republicans gave up on the minimum wage,” LePage said.
While commending House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, LePage bemoaned that rank-and-file Republicans get “weak kneed,” especially during an election year.
The video, which was posted by “Derekuspatriot” on Facebook, was taken at an event for Republican Guy Lebida, who is running for the Legislature in House District 55 and lives in Bowdoin.
In addition to digs at Democrats, unions and newspapers, LePage also projects trouble ahead for Maine’s economy, saying that tariffs and a drop in Canadian tourism were taking a toll.
“I’m a little concerned about the economy,” LePage said. If I sound a little pessimistic, it’s I’ve been seeing the numbers, and I’m telling you it’s not looking good. Red ink is starting to show up.”
With LePage, it’s dangerous to trust the things he says without independent confirmation, but the governor also revealed several other noteworthy items.
LePage says he talks to President Donald Trump frequently and that while he agrees with him on trade, taking on the European Union and China at the same time is problematic in an election year. The governor also said that he expects the trade dispute with Canada will be resolved soon.
And he said that the state has received a letter from the federal government telling them that LD 700, which allows workers temporarily laid off to receive unemployment benefits, is illegal.
LePage vetoed the legislation, but he was overridden by the Legislature.
“It can’t be done,” LePage said. “They [the Legislature] will have to come back and repeal it.”
LePage said people have been asking him for the letter and that he’ll give it to Republicans, but “I’ll be damned if Janet Mills is going to get it” without filing a freedom of access request.
The governor said that nine companies plan to open in Maine soon, mentioning lumber and biofuels specifically. He gave no additional details. The governor also said that the state economist will soon release a report on the minimum wage and efforts to raise taxes to fund social program – the implication being that the report would make those initiatives look bad.
Has the governor been reading ahead?
And finally, believe it or not, LePage talked about several issues that he could easily find agreement on with Democrats and Republicans alike. He talked compellingly about the need to attract more young people to the state and the problem of high student loan debt.
The governor, for just a moment, seemed rational and reasonable. It was a fleeting moment.