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Speakers at Augusta Rally Urge LePage to Resign, Get Help

Steve Mistler
Ralliers gather at Capitol Park in Augusta Tuesday to urge Gov. Paul LePage to resign.

AUGUSTA, Maine - About 500 people gathered in Capitol Park in Augusta yesterday to call for Gov. Paul LePage's resignation.

Several speakers said the governor's racially-charged comments about the ethnicity of drug traffickers were dangerous, while his repeated controversies made him unfit to lead.

The gathering at the park across from the State House felt more like an intervention than a rally. The chants were infrequent, the speakers polite.

And while many called for the governor's resignation, they also painted the picture of a man at war with himself.

Leslie Manning, of Bath, addressed the governor by his first name. "You are our brother and you need help. Get it."

Manning pivoted to the message the crowd wanted to hear. "Paul, as our governor, you have irretrievably broken the compact between us. You must leave now."

The rally was dubbed "Save Our State" and organized by Betsy Sweet, a lobbyist and therapist from Hallowell.

Attendees held an assortment of signs, some playing off LePage's recent profanity-laced voicemail to a Democratic state lawmaker, the incident that has once again put a spotlight on Maine. Other signs were holdovers from rallies held earlier this year when a contingent of lawmakers attempted to impeach the governor. The impeachment effort failed.

Many of the people who showed up yesterday hoped lawmakers will hold LePage accountable this time.
Deqa Dhalac, a Somali woman who lives in South Portland, was among them. A mother of three, Dhalac said the governor's repeated and false assertion that black and Hispanic people were the primary perpetrators of drug trafficking put her children at risk.

"For our governor to openly say that we are the enemy makes it much more likely that they could be attacked in whatever manner," Dhalac said.

The rally ended in what organizers described as a civility circle. Attendees held hands and expanded across the park. They turned toward the governor's mansion, signing and hoping the governor and elected officials heard their message.

Shortly thereafter, House Republican leaders announced they had no plans to address LePage's latest outbursts. The governor told reporters today that he has no intention of resigning.