I’ve been so deep in research-related posts on the national park proposal up north, I haven’t blogged about the continued demise of the LePage administration, what with the veto mess, the Good-Will Hinckley/Rep. Mark Eves mess and the resulting OPEGA investigation mess.
His administration is a hot mess. And a blogger’s dream.
Or it should be. Goodness knows the governor has provided me with endless material. From comparing him to the emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes, to comparing his drug policy to a game of Whack-a-Mole, to calling him a schoolyard bully, I’ve critiqued his performance every which way but loose.
But demonize him as I have, I just can’t straight up celebrate the current state of his administration.
This restraint is not on behalf of the governor, but for the significant number of voters he is letting down. While LePage failed to garner clear majorities in the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial elections, clear majorities of voters did not want the Democratic choices either year.
In 2010 73.5 percent of voters cast votes for either LePage or Cutler. In 2014, it was 56.6 percent. Personally, I didn’t vote for LePage either time, but I was a part of the 73.5 percent that didn’t vote Democratic in 2010. My vote for former Rep. Mike Michaud in 2014 had little to do with supporting Michaud and the Democratic Party, but everything to do with voting anti-LePage.
I take pride in having friends across a spectrum of ideologies. Some sit, as one proudly puts it, just to the right of Ghengis Khan; others sit so far to the left, I wonder if they could ever say a bad word about anybody or anything. So I have friends who voted for LePage. Both times. And I understand why.
I share their concerns about fiscal prudence and our state budget. I share their concerns that Maine may be a little too “bond happy” for a state with a small and aging population and that we might be less reliant on bonds if we could get other spending under control. Like them, I remember reading about millions of missing dollars in the then-DHS budget under the King and Baldacci administrations.
And like my more conservative friends, I’m worried that these legitimate concerns will be the baby that gets thrown out with the bathwater that is our governor’s behavior.
As the OPEGA investigation plays out and legislators decide what actions to take or not take against the governor, I hope our political leadership remembers to heed the concerns of the voters who aligned with LePage. Whether he is impeached or whether he remains in office as a three-year lame duck, those voters are still there as are their concerns.
There is hope. In this first part of the 127th Legislature, legislators worked across the aisles to tackle tough polarizing issues like general assistance for asylum seekers and repealing the concealed weapons requirement. When they reconvene in January, I hope legislators are able to continue this momentum regardless of what the governor’s status is.
And I hope some of the momentum is directed toward the concerns of the fiscal conservatives who LePage has let down.