AUGUSTA — An anti-shutdown rally in the state capital on Saturday featured a prominent Republican face, or at least his voice.

Former Gov. Paul LePage, who recently returned to Maine from Florida, addressed a crowd of several hundred people in Augusta from inside a Lexus SC430 parked about 30 feet away. LePage remained in the car because he is self-quarantined, and his remarks were broadcast via cellphone.

People holding signs accusing Democratic Gov. Janet Mills of ruining the economy and taking away their freedoms lined the road in the short distance between the Blaine House and the State House, while at one point a motorcade of honking cars and trucks adorned with American flags and Trump campaign signs passed by.

LePage told a conservative radio show host late last month that Mills “ought to resign” over her plan for reopening the state’s economy. He also used his strongest language yet in suggesting a re-election bid, saying he’ll “challenge Janet Mills or the Democratic Party in 2022.”

Rick Savage, controversial business owner of Sunday River Brewing Co. in Newry, spoke to a crowd of people at the rally from a microphone, saying, “If we don’t stick together and open up, (the state) thinks they’re winning. We need to open up.”

Savage reopened his business at the end of April, defying Mills’ executive order, and as a result, state health officials pulled his licenses.

However, Savage has kept his restaurant open and has offered dine-in service, despite his licenses being suspended.

On Friday, a temporary injunction was granted by a Maine Superior Court justice ordering the restaurant closed until its licenses to operate are restored, but on Saturday, the business was open all day.

During the rally, Savage told the crowd that Maine “can’t take another two years of (Mills)” and spoke in favor of re-electing LePage if he runs in 2022.


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