Maine GOP to LePage: dial it down a notch

MAINE GOP TO LEPAGE: DIAL IT DOWN A NOTCH…. There’s just something remarkable about the scope of Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) buffoonery. Part of it has to do with expectations — Florida’s Rick Scott (R) is every bit as ridiculous, but it’s Florida, so expectations are lower. Maine, however, as states go, appears to be quite sane.

And yet, LePage is the duly elected chief executive of the state. He’s not doing well — the debacle over the labor mural, the anti-union scheme, the plan to roll back Maine’s child-labor laws, the tax cuts for the rich, the pointless fight with the NAACP — but Mainers are stuck with him, at least for a few more years.

In the meantime, some of his own fellow Republicans have decided the ignominious governor probably needs to dial it down a notch. Amanda Terkel had this report today:

Eight Republican state senators have issued a rare public rebuke of Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), writing an op-ed expressing “discomfort and dismay” with some of his recent comments directed at labor backers.

The controversy centers around LePage’s recent decision to order a mural depicting the state’s workers’ history removed from the Department of Labor, arguing that it was biased against businesses and employers. When asked how he would react if protesters carried out their plan to form a human chain around the mural, LePage replied, “I’d laugh at them, the idiots. That’s what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!”

“But for him to announce that he would ‘laugh at the idiots’ should they choose to engage in our honored tradition of civil disobedience is another personal attack that only serves to further lower the bar of our public discourse,” write the senators in the op-ed, which ran in The Portland Press Herald and the Kennebec Journal. “We may disagree with civil disobedience in this particular instance, but it is a fundamental right each and every one of us might engage in if we found the issue important enough.

Obviously, these state senators are right to be concerned. But the striking angle to this story is the fact that they’re being so public with their criticism. These eight Republicans didn’t just ask for a private meeting with their clownish governor; they wrote a joint op-ed for two of the state’s largest newspapers, humiliating LePage in the process, even though he and they are all members of the same party.

“[W]e find ourselves continually diverted, responding to yet another example of our chief executive picking a personal fight not worth fighting,” they write. “‘Government by disrespect’ should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it.”

“The issue of the day behind the artwork removal is a legitimate disagreement between the governor and labor,” added the senators. “When running for office, some of us did not have the support of organized labor. We may find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue or vote, but we are all working to achieve what we feel is best for our great state. We are not the enemy of labor and labor is certainly not an enemy to us.”

Perhaps most importantly, the GOP lawmakers said LePage’s antics are not “isolated incidents,” but rather a “frequent” problem.

Maine voters pretty obviously made a mistake in November, electing LePage in a three-way contest where the sensible vote was split, but in case anyone’s curious, the state does not have a legal mechanism that allows for the recall of a governor.