January 5, 2011

Today, Maine turns the page,
and it's Paul LePage's turn


By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA — The more than 5,000 people expected to attend today's inauguration will be greeted by an inspirational saying as they walk into the Augusta Civic Center:

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Paul LePage admires a portrait of Ronald Reagan in the Blaine House this morning.

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Governors Joe Brennan, left; John Baldacci, second from left; and Angus King, right, speak with Gov.-elect Paul LePage and his wife, Ann, during a reception at the Blaine House this morning.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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"If it is to be, it is up to us."

The phrase, a slight variation on advice that Gov.-elect Paul LePage was given as a boy, will be a unifying theme throughout a civic center ceremony that will combine tradition with some new touches, said Brent Littlefield, inaugural co-director and senior political adviser to LePage.

"It really captivated people," Littlefield said of the phrase, which figured prominently in LePage's speech at the Republican State Convention in May 2010.

The phrase was originally "If it is to be, it is up to me." The campaign later changed "me" to "us," and the phrase will appear today on the front of the program and in a lighted sign that hangs above the stairs at the main civic center entrance.

Workers were busy Tuesday getting ready for the big event: hanging lights, running cables and setting up television cameras.

Crews were scheduled to work from 4 p.m. to midnight to set up chairs and make sure everything is ready, said civic center director Dana Colwill.

Littlefield worked with Colwill and inaugural co-director Tom Davis – an early LePage supporter who owns Waterville-based Are U Ready to Party?? – to organize the event. Littlefield also praised the volunteers who will be on hand today, the Maine State Police and the Maine National Guard for their assistance.

The invitation-only event will be broadcast on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network radio and television outlets. MaineToday Media newspapers – the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram – will stream the event live on their websites.

Littlefield said guests should plan to arrive early – doors open at 10 a.m. – to allow time to get through security.

The ceremony starts at 11:30 and is expected to end by 1 p.m.

In the evening, LePage will host an invitation-only reception from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the civic center that will include appetizers and a cash bar.

LePage, the first Republican to serve as governor since John McKernan left office in January 1995, asked that all of the inaugural activities take place in one day. The privately funded inaugural and the reception – in place of a ball – are expected to cost about $100,000, which is less than what has been spent on similar events in recent years.

In 2003, fundraisers working for Gov. John Baldacci raised $400,000 to pay for transition costs, the inaugural, a gala and an open house at the Blaine House the following Saturday. Four years later, about $300,000 was spent on the inaugural and a gala.

Littlefield said he worked hard to keep expenses down.

"We're very proud of that," he said.


MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: scover@mainetoday.com


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Paul LePage greets well-wishers at the Blaine House this morning.


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