Dear (former) Governor LePage,

I’d say it’s been too long, though the truth is it hasn’t been long enough. But you’re back, just as you warned you’d be, and so it’s time once again to put in our earplugs and put on our eyeshades as you pinball your way across Maine’s political landscape.

Not sure how to say this, Big Guy, but you’ve changed. I stayed close to my news feeds on Wednesday as you and your supporters delivered your nomination petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office, fully expecting you to show off a little of your special brand of crazy – if only for old time’s sake.

A renewed warning about the next immigrant-induced invasion of “ziki” flies? Nope.

An update on those “women with little beards” caused by exposure to BPA? Nada.

And whatever happened to D-Money, Shifty and Smoothie, Maine’s most notorious out-of-state drug dealers/procreators? By my estimates, all those kids they left behind must be approaching kindergarten by now.


Nor did you tell anyone to kiss your butt, challenge anyone to a duel or fantasize about bombing the Portland Press Herald newsroom – where, just FYI, very few of us actually work these days.

So, what did you say on Thursday? That’s where all of this gets even weirder.

Asked if you’d repeal Gov. Janet Mills’ expansion of Medicaid, you responded, “I’m not going to repeal anything that is good for Maine people.”

Say what? Aren’t you the guy who vetoed – not once, but five times – efforts to expand coverage to more Mainers in need of health care? And when Maine voters loudly insisted that you do so in 2017, didn’t you end up in court still refusing to follow the law?

Go figure. Now, expansion of Medicaid, or MaineCare, is “good for the Maine people.” Good thing you threw in the  afterthought that you’ll “reinstate work rules” for benefit recipients – the last thing you need is for your followers to think you’ve gone all progressive on them.

When someone asked for your thoughts on Gov. Mills’ just-announced plan to provide tuition-free community college for high school graduates who have suffered through the pandemic, I braced myself for what I thought would be a tirade against socialism and runaway government spending and the value of pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps – just like you did back when you were a street urchin, right Big Guy?


Instead, we got this: “What I believe is we should go K through 14 – not just for people during the pandemic getting free college. We ought to follow Tennessee’s lead and make K through 14 (free).”

Wow. You want more government spending on education?

“With one exception,” you quickly added. “I would force every community college to concentrate on our trades. We need plumbers. We need people in the trades.”

I chuckled when one woman then shouted, right on cue, “I can’t find a plumber!” It reminded me of the shortage of community college-trained respiratory therapists in many parts of Maine during the pandemic. Which in turn made me wonder, exactly what do you mean by “the trades?”

On another economic note, I must say Gov. Mills left you precious little wiggle room when she announced during her State of the State address last week, with support from your own Republican Party, that she would use half of the state’s $822 million surplus to send $500 checks to some 800,000 Maine taxpayers.

C’mon, Big Guy. Government giving money directly back to the people. What’s not to like about that?


“Move forward with a lower income tax!” you countered. “We deserve it. We’ve earned it. And it’s time to treat us like human beings and not like prisoners!”

Prisoners? Where did that come from? Reminds me of the time you called the Internal Revenue Service “the new Gestapo” and, as usual, Maine stood red-faced before the rest of the nation. Ah, the memories …

While we’re on the topic of income tax, has it occurred to your supporters – at least those who aren’t rich – that an income-tax cut and a presumed corresponding hike in the sales tax would benefit the wealthy far more than it helps the average Mainer? Yet there they stood on Wednesday, clapping and cheering against their own best interests.

Now, I understand that few in what’s left of Maine’s Republican Party would dare tell you that times have changed since you last departed the Blaine House. But they have. Bigly.

As Gov. Mills pointed out last week, Maine’s state government is operating solidly in the black. Its rainy day fund is at a record $500 million. And for the first time ever, the state is meeting its statutory obligation to fund 55 percent of the costs of public education – Mills even plans to set up an education stabilization fund to help keep it that way.

You say that’s all because “Uncle Joe” Biden infused Maine with $14.7 billion in pandemic relief and economic stimulus money. That’s true – and guess what? It’s working. Despite all the woes of the past two years, Maine’s economy is sound.


All of which leaves you with precious little to hang your hopes on as you seek a third term. Heck, it looks like you won’t even have a serious third-party or independent spoiler on the ballot this time who can vault you into office with less than a majority vote. (When I last spoke with independent Eliot Cutler, he was tooling around contentedly on his tractor up in the coastal town of Brooklin.)

That leaves you and Janet Mills – one on one, record against record, temperament against temperament. For a mismatch that cringeworthy, see an exasperated Joe Biden telling Donald Trump, “Would you shut up, man?”

So knock yourself out, Big Guy. As you angrily crisscross Maine between now and November, keep endorsing the health coverage you once hated. Keep promising you’ll subsidize an education system you repeatedly gutted. Keep saying you want to put money back into Maine taxpayers’ pockets – even as our current governor sends out those $500 checks.

And whatever you do, keep an eye out for those ziki flies.

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