LePage’s 4-Point Plan for Maine

Think the LePage agenda is just one haphazard series of bumbling calamities after another?


After extensive research, I’ve determined that this administration has been following a disciplined protocol — Paul LePage’s 4-Point Plan for Maine:

Point 1: Talk Maine down

Paul LePage is an unconventional governor, a fact that’s perhaps most apparent through his constant denigration of the state he was elected to manage. While other governors try to talk up their respective states, LePage takes a different approach altogether.

LePage can’t stand Maine. He complains about the tax structure, energy costs, uninformed voters, our education system, the apparent legions of “socialists” in our midst, and of course his colleagues in government. LePage seldom makes a public statement that doesn’t reflect negatively on Maine in some way. And, after six years of being in charge, he seems to believe that things are actually worse now. Things are so bad, from his perspective, that he openly discusses his plans to leave Maine as soon as his term ends.

Point 2: Hire the worst people possible

The LePage administration has never been regarded as “the all star team,” and the governor’s staffing struggles were apparent right out of the gate. He appointed a political crony to be the commissioner of Economic Development, but then had to accept his resignation after he made racially-charged statements to an audience in Aroostook County. His first choice for DEP commissioner was forced to resign after the Attorney General found him “unqualified” to hold the position. His first Marine Resources commissioner got in an argument with the governor and quit. When he appointed Mary Mayhew to be DHHS chief, LePage told a press conference audience that, through the process of finding someone to do the job, he hadn’t been “turned down by so many women since high school”. This is not a world-class Human Resources operation.

And recently, LePage has stepped up his bad hire game.

After his chief energy advisor abruptly resigned, the governor hired former state representative Larry Dunphy to work on energy issues. Dunphy is known in Augusta circles as, well, a jerk. The spectacle of Dunphy yelling at someone in the hallways was not an uncommon experience.

His daily job now is to work with the same legislators he used to scream at, to advance the governor’s policy agenda. That should go well.

Gov. Paul LePage during a Feb. 10 news conference on solar power and the Public Utilities Commission. Chris Cousins | BDN

Point 3: When there’s work to do, get out of town

Every two years, the Legislature and the administration work through the state budget. And every two years, LePage takes off for Jamaica right in the middle of the process. Even though the Legislature is in recess for roughly six months a year, the governor instead waits for the most critical point in the entire legislative process to blow out of town. The only mitigating factor here is that everyone else is glad he’s out of town. LePage’s influence on the budget process is so toxic that his absence is actually a relief to everyone involved.

Lately, LePage has developed a fondness for the nation’s capitol. His repeated trips over the last several months have raised a lot of eyebrows. Instead of focusing on Maine’s big issues — heroin addiction, welfare reform, tax reform, and energy costs — LePage is spending his time in D.C. apparently trying to raise his national profile, and Maine taxpayers are footing the bill.

Point 4: When all else fails, make things up

The governor’s penchant for fiction is legendary. Before he was even elected, he was making things up, like the fictional black fly census his company was supposedly forced to conduct. He made up a story about a student overdosing on drugs multiple times at a Portland high school last year. (He finally apologized for that one.) He falsely claimed asylum seekers are bringing diseases to Maine. He even invented an insect — the “ziki fly.” The list goes on and on.

More recently, LePage adamantly (and falsely) claimed a new 3 percent tax surcharge for incomes over $200,000 will apply to the earner’s entire income. The exchange with a voter at a town hall in Aroostook County was recorded by an audience member, and the most disturbing part of it wasn’t the actual lie. The worst thing is the way he lies — with utter condescension toward his audience. You can hear the same thing during his weekly appearances on conservative talk radio. LePage delivers one falsehood after another with exasperation and disdain for anyone who dares to delve into the facts to contradict him.

So there you have it — LePage’s 4-Point Plan for Maine: Talk Maine down, hire the worst people possible, when there’s work to do, get out of town, and, when all else fails, make things up.  It’s taken six years to refine, but I think at this point most would agree — he’s gotten it down to a science.

Lance Dutson

About Lance Dutson

Lance Dutson, a principal of Red Hill Strategies, is a Republican communications consultant. He has served on the campaign teams of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, as well as the Maine Republican Party.