In some ways, Paul LePage’s tenure as governor upended the order of issues in Maine politics.
His brash type excited supporters and angered opponents. He explored the bounds of government energy. He additionally revealed deep political divides between city and rural Maine.
However LePage’s unconventional political type has unquestionably profoundly influenced politics within the Pine Tree State. That affect might very properly outlast his eight years in workplace.
Throughout his time in workplace, we have tried to make sense of LePage and his strategy to governance.
Listed here are 10 dives into LePage’s fashion and politics and what we took away from them.
LePage, the ‘biggest, baddest person around,’ crashes Augusta’s ‘nicey-nicey’ membership
When it comes to LePage, Mainers attitudes towards the businessman-turned-pol are miles aside. It’s been that approach because the very starting.
In 2010, solely 19 % of Portland voters went for LePage, whereas 91 miles to the north within the Kennebec County city of Albion, 61 % of voters backed him. To Portlanders, he was bombastic and bully, and to these in Albion, LePage’s rough-around-the-edges type was a logo of his authenticity — “He’s kind of like me.”
LePage got here to workplace with the objective of setting Maine’s “fiscal house in order,” a message that appealed to voters in 2010 because the state continued to cope with the fallout of the Nice Recession. LePage had no endurance for the standard give-and-take in politics and refused to “compromise” on his rules.
That always led early on, and later throughout his second time period, to verbal sparring with lawmakers and his opponents. Typically he got here out on prime, different occasions his feedback obtained in the best way of his coverage objectives.
However that was simply a part of doing enterprise, as he noticed it, within the Blaine Home: “The little bit I got done is because I forced it. If I was nicey-nice, I would have got nothing done.”
From welfare queens to welfare enlargement: LePage and welfare’s rhetorical energy
Security internet packages have functioned as a political punching bag because the earliest days of the LePage administration. The governor has used the rhetorical energy of “welfare” to attempt to win the general public over on points.
And LePage has prolonged the battle past meals stamps and money profit packages to the Reasonably priced Care Act, which he branded as “welfare expansion,” and even municipal income sharing, which he blasted as “welfare for communities.”
LePage’s rhetoric tapped right into a deep-seated skepticism of public advantages focused towards lower-income People, and proved its energy.
The ‘LePage doctrine’ is reworking Maine politics
LePage as soon as was in contrast to Maine’s legendary Edmund Muskie, who helped propel Maine Democrats to a decadeslong maintain on energy within the state — till LePage got here alongside. That has given hope to the state’s Republicans that he might reshape Maine’s political panorama.
The governor’s “damn the torpedoes” mentality and wielding of government authority mirrored a political doctrine knowledgeable by the personal sector through which leverage, not consensus, is vital in profitable fraught political battles.
LePage’s legacy definitely influenced Maine Republicans’ selection to run Shawn Moody through the 2018 election, and has carved out a brand new course for the state celebration.
Although Moody’s bid to proceed the governor’s legacy failed on the poll field in November, LePage’s doctrine will probably reverberate properly past his eight years in workplace.
LePage’s veto doctrine: No endurance for research, feel-good payments and piecemeal change
In his political arsenal, the veto pen arguably has been certainly one of LePage’s best weapons for attaining his coverage imaginative and prescient. He has inked the demise of extra payments than all different Maine governors, mixed, since 1917.
There was a way to his vetoes. Early in his second time period, LePage demonstrated that there have been sure payments destined for a veto, notably research, “feel-good” payments and any half-measures.
Whereas he has been well-known for declaring that he would veto all Democratic-backed payments within the first session of the 127th Legislature, LePage additionally has consigned Republican payments to his veto pen once they don’t align together with his imaginative and prescient.
For Gov. Paul LePage, all politics is private
When LePage ran for workplace in 2010, his slogan was “people before politics.” As his years in workplace glided by, there was a slight variation on this similar theme: “personal before politics.”
Whereas the governor spent his first time period attacking Democratic insurance policies, in his second time period these assaults targeted increasingly on the people who pushed for these insurance policies and anybody who stood in the best way of his aims.
On the similar time, LePage intensified his efforts to interact voters in one-on-one or small-group dynamics, thereby capitalizing on a method of retail campaigning that catapulted the previous Waterville mayor to Maine’s highest public workplace.
The power to make robust, speedy private connections reveals why LePage engenders such loyalty from his base of supporters, a lot to the astonishment of these outdoors the state who solely know of him by way of impersonal media reviews about his typically outlandish conduct.
Anticipate a good feistier LePage after authorized win over Mark Eves
LePage was by no means afraid to bulldoze his approach over opponents to obtain his aims. That got here to a head in 2015 when Mark Eves sued LePage over getting Good Will-Hinckley to rescind a job supply to the Democratic Home speaker.
Good Will-Hinckley operated a constitution faculty, and Eves was an opponent of constitution faculties whereas within the Legislature. LePage succeeded in getting Eves’ job supply withdrawn by threatening to withhold some state funds from the group. Eves then sued the governor.
A federal decide dominated that LePage is legally immune so long as he operates inside the scope of legislative enterprise, and that threatening to withhold discretionary funding from Good Will-Hinckley until it fired Eves is inside these bounds.
His authorized victory over Eves showcased simply how highly effective a governor who pushes the bounds of authority may be.
Nevertheless, Eves’ lawsuit was revived in Janua ry within the 1st U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals. The case was introduced in April, and a decision continues to be pending.
What stands out about LePage’s strategy to the financial system: A give attention to industries of the previous
When he first ran for governor, LePage pledged to make Maine a aggressive and cost-effective place by which to do enterprise.
The governor has targeted his power on eliminating the state revenue tax, decreasing power prices and lightening laws in hopes of reviving the state’s flagging manufacturing and pure useful resource industries and attracting companies from out of state. However economists have stated the outcomes of those efforts have been combined. That’s partially as a result of the state’s financial system already has transitioned from one largely based mostly on extracting pure assets to an city service financial system.
It matches inside the governor’s general focus — be it financial improvement or conservation — on rural areas, the place he has been hottest.
On the town halls and radio calls, LePage controls the message to his viewers — they usually prefer it
LePage’s antipathy for the media is well-known, from calling reporters “ pencil terrorists” to famously saying — whereas in a fighter jet simulator — that he needed to discover the Portland Press Herald constructing and “ blow it up.”
So when it got here to interacting with the general public, LePage typically most popular small teams or pleasant radio exhibits.
That type of retail politics turned LePage’s principal technique of communication with voters. These appearances allowed him to ship the message he needed — factual or not — and keep away from robust questions. On welfare reform, for instance, LePage repeated blatant falsehoods, corresponding to that half of all meals stamps are redeemed between midnight and three a.m. on the day they’re issued, whereas the right determine is about zero.65 %.
However as when he first ran for workplace, his audiences, whether or not on the town halls or on radio calls, reacted favorably to his rough-around-the-edges fashion that always got here out.
How LePage discovered a Land for Maine’s Future venture he can help
Throughout his tenure, LePage has typically sparred with environmentalists. He has demonstrated opposition to sure conservation tasks, famously withholding voter-approved bonds for the Land for Maine’s Future program earlier than ultimately releasing them.
However LePage now and again discovered conservation tasks he can help, and it says one thing about his priorities when it comes to conservation.
The proposal in query was to shield the Huge Six Forest, a 23,600-acre property that accommodates the top of the St. John River alongside the Quebec border and should have America’s largest sugarbush with 340,000 faucets that in 2013 yielded 24 % of Maine’s maple sugar manufacturing and three.four % of the nationwide output. Its proprietor, Paul Fortin, was additionally a LePage donor.
Whereas LePage’s workplace couched help for the undertaking as constant together with his jobs-minded strategy, a land belief official stated it exhibits how the governor has favored rural conservation over extra accessible tasks close to inhabitants facilities.
Canine pardon once more proves LePage is the alpha in Maine’s energy construction
LePage discovered a brand new method to check government energy in March 2017 when he issued a pardon for a husky named Dakota destined to be euthanized after killing one canine and attacking one other.
Gubernatorial pardons usually come after hearings on petitions submitted to a clemency board by individuals whose livelihoods are affected by previous convictions. The Maine Structure provides the governor vast authority to remit “all forfeitures and penalties” after convictions and to “grant reprieves, commutations and pardons.”
However LePage didn’t undergo his board on this case. As an alternative, he intervened by attaching an official-looking pardon doc to a information launch on the canine’s case after it was introduced to his consideration.
The Kennebec County district lawyer’s workplace argued in courtroom paperwork that LePage had no authority to pardon Dakota as a result of there was no conviction, and that he didn’t comply with correct process in issuing it as a result of Maine regulation requires public discover and a pardon requires a listening to.
It was not the primary time LePage examined the authority of his workplace, nevertheless it was definitely a novel strategy to wielding government energy. However after a state decide agreed to a deal to let Dakota reside, the query of whether or not the governor has the authority to pardon a canine stays unanswered.