September 19, 2010

Hard knocks turned LePage into 'a fighter'

The feisty businessman with a hardscrabble background vows to bring fiscal restraint to Augusta.

By Rebekah Metzler
MaineToday Media State House Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Paul LePage

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage speaks with reporters in the Cross Building behind the State House in Augusta. At right is his daughter Lauren LePage.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

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This is the second in a series of profiles of Maine's gubernatorial candidates. Libby Mitchell's profile appeared in last week's Telegram. The series continues with Eliot Cutler on Sept. 26; Shawn Moody on Oct. 3; and Kevin Scott on Oct. 10.


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"That eliminated that problem," he said.

Then he implemented an eight-minute stretching routine, designed by the Norway-based Work Safe. When some workers tried to boycott because they said the idea was silly, they were told they had no choice, and LePage achieved a 100 percent participation rate, according to the Sun Journal archive.

The experience also might have soured LePage to Maine government. Though the system was later reformed, LePage said at the time the workers compensation program was "absolutely out of control."

LePage has worn the mantle of government reformer before and would like to do so again.

In 1998, while serving on the Waterville City Council, he helped lead the successful effort to recall then-Mayor Ruth Joseph, a Democrat, from office.

According to accounts in the Bangor Daily News archives, LePage and fellow Councilor Paul Poulin conducted a 10-month investigation of Joseph, finding "18 'questionable management practices' and 11 possible violations either of city ordinances or the city charter."

Joseph denied any wrongdoing, but was voted out of office by the people of Waterville.

LePage's plans for Maine include education, welfare and government reforms.

But his calls for transparency in government conduct have been marred of late -- he walked out of his own news conference, refusing to answer questions about his wife's residency status, after it was reported she claimed homestead tax exemptions in both Maine and Florida.

Florida authorities are now investigating Ann LePage's residency claim.

Despite the adversity LePage has faced in life and in politics, he has stayed focused.

And motivated.

Voters don't have to worry about him giving up when things get tough, said Charlie Gaunce, a longtime friend from Waterville and president of Central Maine Motors.

"He's a person that will get the job done and he'll stick with it," said Gaunce. "He'll be very fair in doing it, but he will do what's necessary. He's had to survive on the streets and he's a street fighter."

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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LePage in 1971


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