Paul LePage is jerking you around.
I know, that’s not news. Maine’s Republican governor and vitriol-spewing mutant zucchini spends an inordinate amount of time jerking people around. Just because it’s your turn shouldn’t make you feel special.
Actually, LePage isn’t even singling you out for this particular jerking. You’re just collateral damage. The real jerks in this case are independent U.S. Sen. Angus King and GOP state Sen. Eric Brakey, his party’s only announced candidate to run against King in 2018. LePage hates King, possibly because he’s rich, was well liked as governor and has a much better mustache than LePage could ever hope to grow. As for Brakey, he’s sometimes a little too independent for the governor’s taste, which is to say he has a functioning nervous system above the neck.
During a radio appearance in July, LePage said national Republican officials had recently asked him to reconsider his decision last May not to run against King, who caucuses with the Democrats. The guv didn’t seem enthusiastic about the idea, saying he “wouldn’t make a very good legislator” (true that) and that he thought committee work “would be boring” (also true). But then he added that he was concerned that Brakey’s campaign had yet to gain traction, so he might be forced by circumstances beyond his control to enter the race, if only to give the GOP a credible standard-bearer.
LePage is lying.
I know this because a source close to the governor says so. This source, whose name I can’t reveal except to say it’s Paul LePage himself, made this statement during another radio rant in July: “I just love to sit in my office and makeup ways so [newspapers will] write these stupid stories. They are just so stupid, it’s awful. I tell you, the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”
The governor then meandered off to Washington, D.C., where, according to “stupid” reporters at the Maine Sunday Telegram, he spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars staying in luxury hotels, eating in fancy restaurants and holding private meetings with undisclosed parties about matters he refuses to share with the people who paid the bill.
Please see above statement about him jerking you around.
But back to the Senate race. LePage might have a shot at winning King’s seat if the stars aligned just right. He’s consistently shown the ability to attract votes from around 40 percent of the electorate, regardless of how much lying and jerking around he does. If the Democrats offered up their usual ineffectual nominoid, they might capture as much as 20 percent of the vote (unless they again choose 2012 practice squad player Cynthia Dill, in which case it’ll be something south of 15 percent). That would leave King and the governor in a virtual tie, with the victor being decided by who could tell the biggest fib.
Still close, but the edge goes to LePage.
Keep in mind that this is all academic, because LePage has no plans to run for the Senate. When his second term ends in January 2019, he’ll slide into a lucrative retirement giving speeches to right-wing think tanks or possibly advising President Trump on how to improve his media relations. That’s what he’s told close friends he plans to do. That’s what his wife wants him to do. That’s what makes the most sense for a guy who’ll be pushing 70 by then and might be on the verge of realizing he’s been a political failure (although, probably not).
Of course, LePage is going to play the will-he-or-won’t-he card for as long as he can because he knows it keeps King awake at night and the news media in a frenzy. The guv doesn’t seem to care that propagating the possibility he’ll run will seriously interfere with Brakey’s ability to raise money. But LePage has never been concerned about the future of the Republican Party, and as he prepares to exit the Blaine House, he’s far more focused on settling scores than with aiding the career of somebody who probably voted with him in excess of 90 percent of the time.
When it comes to jerking people around, it takes a real jerk.