GOP must decide if it is the party of Margaret Chase Smith or payback and Paul LePage

BDN photo by Gabor Degre

BDN photo by Gabor Degre

The Maine Republican Party has a proud history of political figures willing to stand up against abuse of power by members of their party.

Sen. Margaret Chase Smith stood up to Sen. Joe McCarthy’s smears.

Bill Cohen, as a young congressman on the House Judiciary Committee, stood up and voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon.

And this isn’t a tradition far in the past. A mere six years ago, a scholarly paper I co-authored on Senators Snowe and Collins characterized them as moderates in a highly partisan age who exemplified this Maine Republican legacy.

Now Gov. LePage has engaged in an abuse of power with respect to Mark Eves

LePage had tried to stop Speaker of the House Mark Eves, a Democrat, from a leadership job at Good Will-Hinckley but failed when Eves was offered the job.

In blocking funds to the school, which threatened private matching funds, LePage succeeded when the board of the school gave in to this bullying.

Eves is highly likely to sue LePage for using his office as governor completely inappropriately.

This isn’t the first effort of LePage’s to intimidate. Recall, for instance, the rebuke by federal investigators the governor received for statements to unemployment insurance appeals officers.

What will today’s Maine Republicans do?

Senators Roger Katz and Tom Saviello have already spoken up.

According to the Bangor Daily News:

“I just don’t think there is any question that Mark Eves is qualified to lead Good Will-Hinckley,” Katz said. “This really goes beyond the political. This is personal and vindictive. I often disagree with Speaker Eves, but he’s a fine and honest man. More importantly, he’s a husband and a father of three beautiful kids who is trying to support his family. Political battles are one thing, but trying to ruin someone economically is quite another.”

In a statement to the press, Saviello said:

The Governor is taking partisan politics to a new dark level. One that I thought we, at the Statehouse, were far above. There is no place for this in Augusta or any place in the great State of Maine. [source]

LePage’s actions go beyond incivility, political stunts and the decision to veto many budget line items to waste the Legislature’s time.

Other Republicans can’t duck this. There is an abuse of power problem that should be confronted.

Besides speaking up, all legislators should consider if there are additional steps that could be taken via budgetary decisions.

The grand tradition of the Maine Republican Party can be restored, but not if LePage’s abuse of power is overlooked by Republicans.

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.