A Republican mayor from Waterville who thinks he’s a tough guy … what could possibly go wrong?

Fourteen years ago, back before “He said what?” became Maine’s de facto state slogan, Paul LePage took the oath as Waterville’s mayor, a municipal bully pulpit that would prepare him well for the fiascos that lay ahead.

And that was before we had Twitter.

Today, LePage’s old job is in the hands of one Nick Isgro.

Like LePage, he’s a Republican.

Like LePage, he’s at least toyed with the idea that he could become governor.

And like LePage, he appears beset by a bottomless chasm of insecurities.

“Eat it, Hogg,” Isgro tweeted last week after Fox News stood by host Laura Ingraham in her losing battle against David Hogg, an outspoken survivor of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro tweeted “Eat it, Hogg” after Fox News stood by Laura Ingraham in her battle against Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Ingraham, provocateur that she is, had publicly belittled Hogg after he lamented that he didn’t gain acceptance to all the universities on his wish list.

Hogg, smart kid that he is, responded by listing all of Ingraham’s show sponsors online and calling for a boycott. More than a dozen of the sponsors since have jumped ship.

Enter Isgro, who somehow took Fox’s statement of support for Ingraham as an invitation to tell Hogg to “eat it.” (Not unlike the time LePage told members of the Maine Chapter of the NAACP to “kiss my butt” because they had the audacity to invite him to a Martin Luther King Day breakfast.)

So, what is it with these Republican mayors from Waterville?

Or, to put it more broadly, why is so much of the far right populated these days by men whose default setting is “attack,” followed by “attack again,” followed by “keep attacking”?

It’s called insecurity. And Isgro has been wallowing in it for a while.

As reported last week by the Maine Beacon, he chimed in last December when Mitt Romney urged fellow Republicans to vote against racist and accused child molester Roy Moore in the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama.

“No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity,” Romney tweeted.

Responded Isgro in a tweet of his own: “The cuckolded battlecry: ‘Lose gracefully! It’s better than winning!’ ”

Then there was the November announcement by the Maine Republican Party that Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin had co-sponsored a resolution, passed unanimously by the House, requiring sexual-harassment training for members of Congress and their staffs.

“Still waiting for the press release about supporting the wall and ending the refugee racket,” Isgro groused on Twitter. “Instead we get this cucked (excrement).”

Interesting, this fixation on the word “cuck” – not just by Isgro, but by many on the far right.

The Urban Dictionary defined it thusly in 2007: “A man who is desperate for acceptance, approval, and affection from women. This desperation has led to the compromise of his beliefs and values, the desecration of his dignity and self-worth, and his inability to stand up for himself and what he deserves as a human being, eg. loyalty, fidelity, and honesty in a romantic relationship.”

Now, I’m no psychiatrist, but one thing I’ve long noticed about bullies – and make no mistake about it, Isgro is a bully – is their tendency to transform their own innermost fears about themselves into ammunition against those who most threaten them.

Thus, Mitt Romney isn’t a longtime, loyal Republican standing up for his own party. To Isgro, he’s a “cuckold.”

And while Poliquin’s willingness to reach across the aisle in a bipartisan stand against sexual harassment might please most decent people, to Isgro it’s nothing more than “cucked (excrement).”

A question for Mayor Isgro: Do your wife and five children, whom you proudly display on your Facebook page, have access to your Twitter account? Did they get an advance preview last week before you went after, of all people, a child?

Reaction to last week’s news of Isgro’s tweets – many others targeted immigrants – speaks volumes about the sealed echo chamber in which he and others like him live.

Several past and current elected officials in Waterville told Morning Sentinel reporter Rachel Ohm that they were not aware of Isgro’s social media persona before it hit the headlines.

Columnist Bill Nemitz poses this question to Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, who has flirted with the idea of a governor’s bid: Do your wife and five children … have access to your Twitter account? Did they get an advance preview last week before you went after, of all people, a child? Twitter photo

In fact, City Councilor Laura Lessing said in an email that she found the tweets “all the more confusing because Nick himself does not present that way in public, where … he generally seems personable and intelligent.”

Compared to LePage, who has about as much control over his mouth as a toddler with a fully charged fire hose, Isgro is a case study in bifurcation – on one hand, the smooth, polished assistant vice president and controller for Skowhegan Savings bank; on the other, an angry pit bull with a keyboard and high-speed internet.

But here’s the part that flummoxes me: Why all the anger?

Why is an all-American man with a good job, a picture-perfect family and a lofty title conferred upon him by his own community so perpetually angry that he’ll impulsively go after everyone from refugees to his own political party to a high school shooting survivor whose true courage far eclipses Isgro’s false bravado?

I’ve never met the man, but my guess is that Isgro, despite all he has going for him, isn’t nearly as comfortable in his own skin as he’d like the world to think he is.

Subscribe - Nemitz



For all he’s achieved in his 36 years, his social media utterances betray a man besieged by social change. He’s the new generation of a dying breed – privileged white men who have long ruled the world but whose days atop that perch feel numbered.

In short, they’re scared.

Thus, while true leaders rise to these challenging times, Isgro logs onto his Twitter account and tells a kid more than 1,000 miles away to “eat it.” For what, Mr. Mayor? Taking on your beloved Fox News?

Back in January, amid rumors that he might jump into the race to replace LePage as governor, Isgro announced the opposite – but only after calling the current crop of candidates “custodians of decline” and urging us all to work with President Trump even if we dislike “his tweets or his tone.”

The next day, the Bangor Daily News ran the story beneath the headline “Despite Trumpian rhetoric, Waterville mayor shows he’s not ready to be the next LePage.”

Thank God for small favors.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

[email protected]