Politics

December 6, 2012

Legislators take oath, LePage takes aim

The governor criticizes the Democrats' decision to hire a cameraman to film his public events as "vulgar, vicious and vile."

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Despite a public admonishment by Republican Gov. Paul Le- Page, the new Democratic majority in the Legislature emphasized unity and collaboration during swearing-in ceremonies at the State House on Wednesday.

click image to enlarge

Gay Grant, D-South Gardiner, center, takes the oath of office Wednesday as a state representative at the House in Augusta. All Senate and House members were sworn in for the 126th Legislature by Gov. Paul LePage.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, walks to the Senate president's podium on Wednesday after being confirmed by his colleagues in the Senate. All Senate and House members were sworn in for the 126th Legislature by Gov. Paul LePage.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

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126TH LEGISLATURE
BY THE NUMBERS

HOUSE
(151 members)
:

89 Democrats

58 Republicans

2 Independents

2 unenrolled

47 women (34 are Democrats, 13 Republicans)

At age 81, Rep. Helen Rankin, D-Hiram, is the most senior member of the House. Rep. Justin Chennette, D-Saco, 21, is the youngest.

There are 65 new House members, of which 10 have served in the House previously.

Occupations:

35 retirees

14 business owners

10 educators

9 health care professional

9 self-employed

8 attorneys

7 consultants

3 carpenters

2 farmers

2 work in the pulp & paper industry

1 logger


SENATE
(35 members)

19 Democrats

15 Republicans

1 unenrolled

Gender:

Seven women (all Democrats), 28 men (12 Democrats, 15 Republicans, 1 unenrolled)

Experience:

18 incumbents

17 new members, 5 have no previous experience

The combined legislative experience totals 223 years.

Sources: Clerk of the House, Secretary of the Senate

Newly elected Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland and House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick vowed to work with their Republican colleagues, who lost legislative majorities in November's elections.

Alfond challenged lawmakers to defy expectations that Democrats will clash with LePage and create gridlock, saying people on both sides are "spoiling for a fight" and expecting "a showdown between the Legislature and the Blaine House."

"I say let's disappoint them," he said.

The lawmakers' celebratory day was nearly upstaged by LePage, however, who used the event to repeat his criticism of a "tracker" hired by the Maine Democratic Party to videotape him at public events.

"I want to thank (them) for providing me with my own paparazzi. The next two years should be interesting," Le- Page said, before administering the oath of office to House members to officially launch the 2013-14 session.

"I would like to make one slight objection. Next time you hire a paparazzi, would you give the job to a Mainer instead of a person from Massachusetts. Thank you," LePage added, drawing laughs from the lawmakers.

But some were not amused by his remarks.

"It was odd," said Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth. "What a way to start."

On Tuesday LePage abruptly canceled a meeting with the incoming Democratic leaders over the videotaping, which he called "vulgar, vicious and vile," to him and his family.

Party operatives and other progressive activists have tracked LePage at various public events since he was elected in 2010. A spokeswoman for the party said Tuesday that they have videotaped the governor because he has a habit of saying things that are untrue.

Democrats also questioned why LePage decided to make an issue of the practice on the day he was scheduled to meet with the new Democratic leadership about the upcoming legislative session.

Along with criticizing, LePage told lawmakers he is willing to work with Democrats.

"As elected officials, we have a duty and responsibility to Maine people," LePage said. "It's not about us or whether we like it or not any of things that we go through. I will endure and have pledged to work (for) the people of the state of Maine."

LePage made similar remarks in the Senate chamber before swearing in 35 senators.

Senate Democrats declined to engage the governor over his comments.

"We're going to stay above the fray on that kind of stuff," said Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond.

The governor stuck to the script while swearing in Alfond, whom he once called a "spoiled brat."

LePage shook hands with the new Senate president and playfully tugged on the finger of Alfond's 1-year-old son, Jacoby, on his way out of the chamber.

Alfond was elected by the new senators, defeating Republican nominee Garrett Mason of Livermore Falls in a 20-15 vote.

While Republicans challenged Alfond's presidency, Eves was unopposed. Republican House leader Ken Fredette of Newport seconded Eves' nomination in a show of unity.

"As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I recall with pride how we passed a biennial budget that had been proposed by a Republican chief executive with a unanimous committee report, followed by passage of a supermajority of Democrats and Republicans," Fredette said. "We passed four more budgets in the same fashion."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Gay Grant, D-South Gardiner, center, takes the oath of office as a state representative Wednesday at the State House. All Senate and House members were sworn in for the 126th Legislature by Gov. Paul LePage.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

House Minority Leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, of Newport, looks over papers after being sworn in for his second term on Wednesday at the State House.

AP / Joel Page

click image to enlarge

Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, carries his son, Finnegan, 4, Wednesday, before being sworn in for a new term in the House of Representatives at the State House in Augusta.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Newly-elected Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick speaks Wednesday at the swearing in ceremony for new representatives at the State House in Augusta.

AP / Joel Page

click image to enlarge

Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, hugs his mother, Lisa Pouliot, Wednesday before taking the oath of office in the House of Representatives in Augusta.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, greets well wishers Wednesday before taking the oath of office in the House of Representatives in Augusta.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Rep. Kathleen Chase, of Wells, is sworn in Wednesday at the State House in Augusta.

AP / Joel Page

click image to enlarge

Gov. Paul LePage speaks Wednesday at the swearing in ceremony for new representatives at the State House. LePage administered the oath of office to the new legislators who were elected last month.

AP / Joel Page

 


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