Paul LePage, the nation’s angriest governor

If there was an award for angry governors, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage would win it.

There are lots of tea party governors, many of whom, like LePage, were elected in 2010. Prof. Jim Melcher of UMaine-Farmington and I compiled a book with quotations from them and we found many strong statements among the clear philosophical and policy positions.

In this group of governors and among all the other governors, some are calm and some are quite intense.

But no one holds a candle to Gov. LePage.

Two years ago on Martin Luther King Day, LePage made news for saying that the NAACP could “kiss my butt.”

In December 2012, after Republicans lost their majorities in the Maine Legislature, incoming Senate President Justin Alfond asked LePage for dinner.

This was the mature, professional thing for Alfond to do. These have to work together, despite LePage (several months before) having called Alfond “a little spoiled brat” and saying, curiously, “He’s very fortunate that his granddad was born ahead of him.”

But LePage refuses to meet with Alfond because he doesn’t like being taped making public statements in public places to public audiences.

The latest situation involves LePage becoming very angry with a group of independent legislators.

When Evangelos brought up concerns from municipal leaders in his midcoast district that the elimination of revenue sharing — designed to save the state nearly $200 million during the two-year budget cycle — could cause property taxes to spike hundreds of dollars for an average property owner, LePage grew irritated, Brooks, Chipman and Evangelos said Monday in separate telephone interviews.

He raised his hands over his head, then pounded the table, Brooks said.

“‘You guys, you’re idiots and you’re just as bad if not worse than those other guys,’” LePage said, according to Brooks. “I assumed that he was talking about the Democrats.”

“He went right through the roof when I asked him the question,” Evangelos said. “He flew up like a jack-in-the-box and ran out of the room and slammed the door.”

Brooks, Chipman and Evangelos thought the meeting was over just a minute after it began, but LePage returned minutes later.

“When he came back in the room, he was hollering at us and swearing at us,” Evangelos said.

After unveiling his budget, perhaps Gov. LePage thought he’d get more support than he has.

LePage’s political strategist, who lives in Virginia, put out talking points for Republicans to use, but I haven’t noticed them using them.

Those talking points, leaked to the website Dirigo Blue, counsels these legislators to say that the cuts to municipalities aren’t actually a cost-shift. Yet everyone, including the Maine Municipal Association and those of us who pay property taxes, know they are.

So, with the talking points lying around unused by Republicans, independent legislators asking questions and wondering if some of the LePage tax policy could be put aside in order to prevent large cuts, and the governor refusing to meet with Democratic leaders, LePage may be frustrated.

Gov. LePage is more isolated than he ever has been. He’s lost his legislative majorities after his personal political group and Democrats defined legislators in terms of how much they supported LePage. November 2012 involved a rejection of the LePage Legislature.

But no matter how bad that feels or how angry LePage has become, he has a job to do and slamming doors and yelling won’t help him do it.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.