Thursday, January 9, 2014

Explaining Gov. LePage to a national audience

In Politico Magazine today I attempt to explain Gov. Paul LePage -- and his effect on Maine politics and his own party -- to a national audience.

I spoke to a number of other sources whose quotes ended up on the editing room floor down in D.C. for streamlining and readability --- the national audience may not care to delve deeply into Pine Tree State politics -- but for Maine political junkies, here's some of the additional commentary:

Charlie Webster, until last year the chair of the Maine Republican Party, has publicly tangled with LePage, but he thinks he could well win reelection. “Maine is a welfare state – we’re a mini version of socialism, our own little East European state, and if people want that they can vote for the Democrats,” he says.  “LePage has moved us slightly toward the center, and he will win or lose based on whether people like our social welfare philosophy or whether we have capitalism and free enterprise.”

And, talking about the future of the party, rather than LePage per se:

“Maine Republicans can’t win without taking a chunk out of the center,” says former Republican US Rep. David Emery, who served briefly in the LePage administration. “If your goal is to win and have a more conservative and business-friendly alternative in government then you have to provide a product that people in Maine find appealing. But if you’re idea is to make a point and take the most conservative position on every issue then you can have your fun, win 34 percent of the vote, and not have a lot of effect on policy.”

For those wanting to know more about LePage, I also offer my two-part, 10,000 word biography, The Making of Paul LePage, that ran two years ago in the Portland Phoenix.


  1. I saw your article in Politico and I linked to it in the comment section of the First Read blog on MSNBC. I thought it was a very well written and straight forward description of our governor, despite the "Craziest Governor" headline. His policies are pretty much boilerplate Tea Party, even if his personality is "colorful."
    Maine is a laboratory for these policies, That's what's important for the national audience to know, in my opinion. They should look to see what does/doesn't work in that ideology in practice.

    1. Hi Amy - Yes, I didn't write the headline, and wouldn't have chosen it as the article never attempted to survey the nation's governors in the quest for the most "crazy." Agreed that Maine is laboratory for the Tea Party agenda, but as it applies to a Yankee New England cultural environment.

  2. Calling Maine a "welfare state", a "mini version of socialism", and a "little East European state" seems extravagant. Is that typical of Republicans there?

  3. Also, why are social welfare and capitalism supposed to be opposed? I find such rhetoric perplexing.