Dear Governor LePage,

Yeah, that’s right. I’m still here.

I have only two things left to say about your widely publicized suggestion on the eve of the election that I be put on suicide watch because, as you accurately predicted, you were going to win a second term.

First, at long last, it’s nice to be inside your head. Not where I’d hoped to spend the next four years, but hey, it beats talking to that glossy photo of yourself that you sent me three years ago, along with the brand new set of Halex Competition 2000 Darts.

(FYI, the darts have yet to come out of their package. Given your role in this week’s coast-to-coast Republican tsunami, I’m thinking of listing them on eBay.)

Second, while I must admit I chuckled – actually, it was more of a guffaw – when I heard your quip about keeping me off the “Bucksport bridge,” I’ve heard from a number of people who have lost loved ones to suicide and they see no humor in it whatsoever. So, out of respect for them, let’s move on.

Without further ado, congratulations! You won, fair and square.

Your infamous “38 percent” label is history. If I had a nickel for every political insider who’s insisted over and over these past four years that you’d never, ever, see north of 40 percent – let alone your whopping 48 percent finish on Tuesday – I’d be a rich Republican.

I’ve got to tell you, Governor, Greater Portland is not a fun place to be right now. All night on Tuesday and all day on Wednesday, I’ve been running into people who want to look back over the last few months and point fingers.

Some, not surprisingly, are livid with Eliot Cutler. They say they’ll never forgive him for ignoring the handwriting on the wall and refusing to hit the “eject” button while there was still time to make this a head-to-head contest between you and Democrat Mike Michaud.

While I’m far less impressed with Cutler than I was six months ago, I’m not sure it would have mattered.

Others have had it with Maine’s Democratic Party and its uncanny knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My take: Maine Democrats have a lot more to worry about than another four years with you in the Blaine House. Clearly, when it comes to viable statewide leadership, their party has lost its way.

Still others have been telling me that I got you re-elected, that by criticizing you loudly and often, I inadvertently cultivated sympathy for you that reached full bloom in the voting booth.

I thank those folks from the bottom of my pay stub for being such loyal readers of this newspaper. I’m also in total awe, considering their apparent discomfort, that they keep coming back.

But enough of the blame game. Far more significant is what we all learned from this election.

No, sir, I’m not talking about your long-term, detailed energy plan. I’ll reserve judgment on that until you actually articulate one.

Ditto for education, employment, economic development … you know, the stuff people truly care about as they wake up from their election hangovers and go back to their day-to-day lives.

What I and many others learned from this election is that you are not, as you’d have us believe these past four years, the kind of guy who simply doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

I thought – mistakenly, it turns out – that one of your biggest flaws was a complete and utter lack of impulse control.

At the same time, Governor, you’ve come across more often than not as perpetually angry, burdened by a chip that’s been on your shoulder since you were a kid struggling to survive on the hardscrabble streets of Lewiston.

“No. That’s not what he’s really like,” argued people who know you better than I. “He actually has a great sense of humor. And believe it or not, he’s got a heart the size of Aroostook County!”

I thought they were dreaming. Then this fall’s campaign shifted into high gear and you transformed yourself right before our eyes.

Gone, for the most part, were the legendary tantrums … followed by the walk-backs … followed by the non-apologies that always began with “I’m sorry …” and ended with “… if anybody was offended.”

In their place emerged a guy who smiled a lot, who seemed to take a second or two to think before he spoke. A guy who clearly enjoyed exchanging hugs and high-fives with opponent Cutler, while dialing down the attacks on arch-rival Michaud to simple, straightforward phrases like “My opponent is not being honest.”

Heck, in a Sept. 18 interview with the Portsmouth Herald, you even revisited that crack you made back in 2013 about state Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, being “the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

“Have I said something I’m sorry about?” you said, repeating the newspaper’s question. “One comment that I made that I’m sorry that I ever made, to Sen. Jackson, I used the word ‘Vaseline.’ ”

Lo and behold, people noticed the new you. Your poll numbers soared. The more you behaved yourself, the easier it became for Mainers who already identified with your policies to forgive your past gaffes, fall in behind you and hope for the best.

Plain-spoken? Hell yes, you are.

Self-controlled? More than some of us ever imagined.

Crazy like a fox? That too.

So here we go again, huh Governor?

But as we embark on another four years, remember one thing: As you’ve so clearly demonstrated these past few months, you can and do pay close attention to what you say and how you say it.

That matters. Not just to your now-expanded base, but to those who will still disagree with you.

They too are your constituents. They too have a right to their opinion. They too are proud Mainers worthy of your respect, not your manufactured rage.

So go ahead, Big Guy, surprise us.

In a good way.


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