AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage says he will swear in a newly elected state senator Tuesday afternoon, ending a spat with Democratic legislators that prompted the Senate to delay action on controversial bills until Sen.-elect Susan Deschambault was seated.

The Democrat was snubbed Friday when LePage refused to swear her in after she had traveled to the State House with her family to take the oath of office.

LePage’s move made Deschambault the pawn in yet another tussle between the Republican governor and legislative Democrats, several of whom voted Thursday to reject his nominee to the Unemployment Insurance Commission. LePage officials acknowledged Friday that the governor’s decision to cancel Deschambault’s swearing-in ceremony was in retaliation for Democrats’ “despicable” spurning of Steven Webster, his pick for the unemployment board.

The tit-for-tat prompted Democrats to charge that LePage effectively denied citizens in District 32 representation in the state Senate. The District 32 seat has been vacant since former Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, resigned in January, citing his battle with alcoholism. The district includes Biddeford, Alfred, Arundel, Dayton, Kennebunkport and Lyman.

Deschambault defeated Republican Stephen Martin of Biddeford on March 29 by about 17 percentage points in a special election to fill the vacancy.

The delay in swearing in Deschambault prompted Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau to postpone roll call votes on contentious bills until she is seated. The Senate adjourned Monday after a handful of votes, despite having roughly 30 bills awaiting action and the end of the session approaching April 20.

“We thought the fair thing to do was to wait until she was sworn in to start taking action on the remaining bills,” Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said after Monday’s Senate floor session. “Obviously, we passed bills today and we’re working, so I think we are doing fine. But obviously, folks are anxious to have our new member seated and I’m sure she’ll be here on Wednesday.”

Thibodeau said the delay was unusual, but “we roll with the punches around here.” Asked if he was frustrated by the delay, Thibodeau said the governor was acting within his prerogative.

“It’s up to the governor to decide when he is going to do that. He is well within his rights to wait,” Thibodeau said. “He is doing what he thinks is right, and in turn we are trying what we think is fair and right, too.”

A LePage spokeswoman said the governor is scheduled to seat Deschambault at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, hopes the seating will take place as scheduled.

“It’s been too long for Senate District 32 residents,” Alfond said Monday. “They have been without a voice since Jan. 28. Tomorrow, hopefully, will happen without a hitch.”

The Maine Constitution provides that the governor will swear in elected lawmakers, and that if he cannot give the oath of office, the chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court can perform the task. The constitution doesn’t specify a deadline for administering the oath.

LePage has asserted that he has five business days from the special election to administer the oath. The five-day waiting period is designed to allow challenges to an election result. No challenge was forthcoming, given Deschambault’s wide margin of victory.

Challenges have not previously discouraged LePage from seating lawmakers. In 2014, he swore in Republican Cathy Manchester of Gray even though her victory over Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, was disputed and eventually overturned after a recount.

The dust-up that delayed Deschambault’s swearing-in is the latest in a long-running squabble between LePage and the Legislature. Last year the governor launched a 51-minute broadside against lawmakers during a memorable news conference at the Blaine House after Democrats delayed the confirmation of his pick for the Public Utilities Commission.

The news conference exposed the governor’s rift with Senate Republicans, who rejected a major tax provision in his ambitious two-year budget, and further inflamed relations with House Speaker Mark Eves, who is now suing LePage for threatening to yank funding from a private school that had offered Eves a job as its next president.

LePage then vowed to reject all Democrat-sponsored bills, a promise that yielded a 178-bill veto spree. The Legislature eventually overrode more than 70 percent of them, and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court later ruled that 65 of the vetoes came too late.

Staff Writer Kevin Miller contributed to this report.

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