–Maine Gov. Paul LePage, addressing a controversy stemming from a vulgar voicemail he left for Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook), calling Gattine a “son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker.”
LePage made the comments in response to reports that Gattine had criticized his use of racially-loaded rhetoric when discussing the problem of heroin overdoses and prescription drug abuse. LePage thought that Gattine had called him racist, which prompted the governor to leave the voicemail, the Portland Press-Herald reports.
After LePage was subsequently criticized by other lawmakers, members of the media, and even fellow Republicans, he issued an “apology” for insulting Gattine without expressing remorse for having said the offensive terms.
“I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state,” LePage said. “Legislators like Gattine would rather be politically correct and protect ruthless drug dealers than work with me to stop this crisis that is killing five Mainers a week.”
As a result of his over-the-top reaction to criticism, thousands of Mainers have signed an online petition urging the governor to step down. Some Democratic legislative leaders are calling upon their Republican colleagues to either persuade LePage to resign, vote to censure him, or even impeach him.
“Such behavior is inappropriate for a governor and he appears to be unfit to hold office at this time,” Democratic leaders said in a letter. “His actions have become increasingly erratic over the last several years, but he has now crossed a line and we must act.”
Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Winterport) is expected to address the issue in a press conference on Tuesday. But Sen. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), who is up for re-election this year, wrote in a Facebook post that she is concerned about the governor’s seemingly erratic behavior, and believed that “some sort of censure would seem appropriate.”
That censure vote would allow LePage to remain in office, while allowing legislators, including his fellow Republicans, to distance themselves from him and his controversial comments.
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