The stage is set for Gov. Paul LePage's inauguration

The stage is set for Gov. Paul LePage’s inauguration

Gov. Paul LePage will be sworn in for his second four-year term Wednesday during a joint session of the Maine Legislature held at the Augusta Civic Center. I’ll be live-blogging part of the ceremony beginning with a modified version of the Morning Briefing. Readers can also view a live stream of the governor’s speech on the Press Herald home page, courtesy of MPBN. We’ll be curating some tweets from the event as well.

– Steve Mistler

12:32 p.m. – LePage says the campaign was won by taking the issues to the voters.

He then hit some of the familiar notes of his campaign that highlighted his legislative achievements.

“We are no longer the adversary in business, but a partner to business,” he said.

12:30 p.m. – LePage says his staff has a betting pool on how quickly he’ll get off message or his prepared remarks. He joked about the tone of the campaign, saying it was so negative “that I started hating myself.”

Outside groups spent over $14 million on the gubernatorial and legislative races this year.

12:20 p.m. – LePage is getting ready to speak. I’ll post a few more updates here before switching over to news story. Check for the story after the governor finishes his remarks.

12:13 p.m. – LePage enters the convention center:  

  11:50 a.m. – The joint convention has come to order. There will be a lot of ceremonial proceedings before we get to the governor’s address, which scheduled for approximately 12:40. First Lady Ann LePage will speak before the governor. The governor’s staff said it had given out approximately 3,500 tickets. It’s tough to count in the dark here, but the crowd looks a bit smaller than the governor’s inauguration ceremony from four years ago. 11:15 a.m. – House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, has added a new staff member. His name is Jonny Asen and if he sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because he formerly served as President Obama’s chief of staff for legislative affairs. He made roughly $50,000 for the post, according to a database of White House salaries. 11:10 a.m – LePage will unveil his two-year budget proposal on Friday. He could hint at some of the initiatives during his speech in the budget, but his political team has said not to expect many details. There’s some speculation — ok a lot — that LePage will introduce his income tax reduction plan in the two-year budget. Here’s some background on that initiative. 11 a.m. – Brent Littlefield, LePage’s political advisor and the architect of his electoral victories, is running the inauguration ceremony for the governor’s team. Littlefield, who also helped U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, get elected this fall said he plans to stay on on LePage’s advisor through the next term. He’ll also consult for Poliquin. Both roles, he said, are not part of either LePage’s or Poliquin’s paid staff, but separate.

Morning Briefing 1.7.15

* The governor sat down with The Boston Globe for a lengthy interview about his rough and tumble upbringing and political ascendence. The Globe story revisits painful details of the governor’s relationship with his alcoholic and abusive father, details of which have been reported by Press Herald reporter Matt Byrne in this profile that ran in July.

From the Globe piece:

“The nightmares never go away,” LePage said, his voice softening. “The beatings from my dad are the worst ones. Those are always the ones I fear the most.”

His father, a wiry painter who spoke only French, generally was well behaved from Monday through Friday. But as the weekend began, when he arrived home with a 12-pack of Rheingold beer in a plastic bag, a shroud of dread and violence cloaked the crowded apartment until work summoned him again on Monday morning.

“When you saw the beer, you knew it would be a tough weekend, and the problem was it was consistent,” LePage said. “He was like a monster who would beat the daylights out of us.”

The governor’s personal story has become part of his political legacy, particularly as he’s pursued controversial changes to Maine’s welfare programs. In some ways it’s helped insulate him from his critics who say that those policies amount to what Democrats have said are a “war on the poor.”

As the governor told the Globe, ““Until you walk in my shoes, you have no standing.”

* Former Republican Gov. John McKernan was originally supposed to be on stage with LePage during the inauguration ceremony, but has cancelled, according to Brent Littlefield, the governor’s political adviser. Littlefield said the former governor could not attend the ceremony because of “flight problems.”

Four years ago, Maine’s six former, living governors attended LePage’s inauguration ceremony: Gov. John Baldacci, Gov. Angus King, Gov. McKernan and Gov. Joseph Brennan. Former Govs. Kenneth Curtis and John Reed live in Florida and did not make the trip.

* The governor’s remarks on Wednesday will be preceded by First Lady Ann LePage. She is expected to discuss volunteerism and the importance of honoring Maine’s veterans, issues that have been a priority for her during the governor’s first term.

* The inauguration is sometimes viewed as a ceremony focused on the governor. It is also a joint session of the Legislature, meaning lawmakers will be in attendance and begin moving legislative documents.

A few highlights:

L.D. 2 – An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Purchase and Development of the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal as a Multimodal Transportation Facility

L.D. 4 – An Act to Promote Industrial Hemp

L.D.5 -An Act To Remove the Limit on the Number of Patients a Primary Caregiver May Provide for under the Medical Marijuana Laws

L.D. 6 – A Resolve To Implement Recommendations of the Government Oversight Committee To Strengthen the Ethics Practices and Procedures for Executive Branch Employees

The latter bill stems from the document shredding and grant manipulation controversy at the Maine Center for Disease Control. The Government Oversight Committee adopted a number of recommendations designed to prevent another similar episode, including some ethical guidelines for employees within the executive branch.

* Democrats have already congratulated the governor on his inauguration. From House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick:

“Congratulations to the Governor and his family as they celebrate this very special day,” said House Speaker Eves of North Berwick. “I look forward to working with the Governor over the next two years to grow good paying jobs in our state and to strengthen our economy. I hope we can hit reset after a contentious campaign and legislative session. While we may not agree on everything, we must come together to grow good jobs and improve wages for workers.”