Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Technically not a book, John Christie at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting published an 11,000-word profile about our governor titled "The Book On Paul LePage: The 'biggest, baddest person around' crashes Augusta's 'nicey-nicey' club."
Despite the tortured title, Christie's piece is an informative, comprehensive and fair look into what motivates LePage, infuriates his opponents and frustrates his supporters. It confirms what I have always known about LePage: He is a results-focused leader with very little concern for political fallout or unnecessary niceties.
Love him, hate him or want more from him, not much is going to change. So it was not much of a surprise that LePage was again confronted with an unauthorized recording in the hands of progressive activist and wonky wunderkind Mike Tipping. Over several blog posts in the Bangor Daily News, Tipping, like a cat playing with its prey, has been revealing taped excerpts from LePage's talk to the Informed Women's Network. Tipping's posts come complete with detailed analysis suggesting LePage has sinister intentions or a loose grip on the facts.
I would offer that Tipping has forgotten more about politics and elections than I will ever know, if I thought Tipping had actually forgotten anything. That compliment aside, these LePage uncensored posts are really much ado about not a whole lot.
When I worked for LePage, it never bothered me when he got some of the details wrong in his comments because he is so effective at connecting with voters on key themes and at making his intent known.
It turns out, for example, 47-percent of able-bodied Mainers are not out of work as LePage suggested. Nevertheless, much of the electorate believes too many Mainers are not being productive enough with their time.
These voters know that Paul LePage cannot stand the culture of dependency that persists in Maine. Anytime LePage gets to talk about reforming welfare and creating jobs, it is a win in my yet-to-be-written book.
I was also not surprised to see LePage continue to provide sincere and compassionate leadership on the issue of domestic violence last week. Calling it "the most heinous of all crimes in society," LePage helped kick off a basketball tournament raising money for children who have lost parents to domestic violence.
A lot about LePage gets overlooked because of his own reluctance to shine the spotlight on the work he does to help individual constituents or worthy causes. I have always respected his desire to do worthy work without trying to score political points.
* * *
Democrat Shenna Bellows officially launched her expected campaign for the U.S. Senate last week. A bright and accomplished leader at the Maine American Civil Liberties Union, Bellows is best known for helping to legalize gay marriage in Maine and for fighting to protect Mainers from infringements on our cellphone privacy and drone surveillance.
Bellows will run an informative and impassioned campaign for the Senate against Susan Collins, but she will come up well short of victory when the ballots are cast. While well known and respected by political insiders, Bellows will find it extremely hard to build the name recognition and traction it takes to compete against Collins with the broader electorate.
It is very hard to make the leap from newcomer to contender in Maine politics. Especially so in campaigns when the electorate is so satisfied with the service of the incumbent. Collins is a highly effective legislator and one of the few truly pragmatic leaders who can be counted on to broker solutions in Washington.
(Continued on page 2)