The Maine Republican Party’s official Twitter account posted a series of messages last week blaming immigrants for outbreaks of infectious disease.

The next day, Nick Isgro, Waterville mayor and vice chairman of the state party, said the baseless, bigoted posts came from him, not the party as a whole. A spokeswoman for Maine Senate Republicans said that the caucus did not approve of the post: “This is not a message that we as Republicans condone.”

Let’s hope so. But it’s easy to see why people might get the wrong idea.

Party members over the last eight years said virtually nothing as then-Gov. Paul LePage regularly made racist and anti-immigrant statements.

LePage received virtually no public blowback from Republicans when he blamed the state’s drug epidemic on black and Hispanic drug dealers, or when he said minorities from out of state were “the enemy.”

There was no heat from his party when LePage said asylum seekers bring diseases like “the ziki fly,” or when he said that Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon, should thank Republicans for ending slavery, or that the NAACP should apologize to the “Northern white people who fought and gave their lives to free them.”

These remarks and many others were spread out over LePage’s two terms and often repeated even after the former governor was presented with contrary evidence. Still, few in the party said anything.

Even the completion of Le-Page’s time in office couldn’t end the silence – in recent weeks, LePage has repeated his false claim about drug dealers and said the Democratic Party gets all its money from Jewish people, without any response from party leaders.

LePage’s two terms in office ended disastrously as Republicans lost the governor’s race and control of the Maine Senate, while Democrats extended their lead in the House. The Republican Party also lost the 2nd Congressional District seat.

If there were ever an opportunity for Republicans to move on from LePage’s brand of politics, it would have been then, just after a devastating loss that left the party out of power.

Instead, at LePage’s prodding, Demi Kouzounas and Jason Savage were re-elected as party chairwoman and executive director, respectively, while Isgro was elected vice chairman. Afterward, Garrett Mason, a former legislator who had dropped out of the race for party leadership, referred to Maine Republicans as a “cult of personality.”

The party knew what it was getting in Isgro. The Waterville mayor almost lost that position in a recall attempt after he tweeted disparaging remarks about a school-shooting survivor, adding to a long history of spreading hateful conspiracy theories about refugees and immigrants, among others.

No, the disgusting statements made last week on the Maine Republican Party Twitter account were not a surprise, nor were they a mistake – Isgro is just doing what he has always done.

It was the same thing the party got when they re-elected Kouzounas – who in January told party members, “We’ve been too nice,” and “Trump is telling us how to win” – and when they backed LePage without criticism for all these years.

It’s the same thing that for many Republicans resonates about President Trump, who has similarly tried to stir fear and anger with lies about immigrants and other supposed dangers.

As of Monday night, Isgro’s original tweets remained up under the Maine Republican Party banner.

Republicans who say those tweets don’t represent their views should speak up – otherwise, the party will do it for you.


Comments are not available on this story.