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LePage to campaign with Virginia's governor, raising questions about his plans for public education

Steve Helber
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gestures as he delivers remarks during opening ceremonies for the new offices of Empower AI Wednesday July 20, 2022, in Richmond, Va.

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will campaign on behalf of former Maine Gov. Paul LePage in Lewiston on Wednesday, potentially intensifying the debate over public education in this year's election.

Youngkin's visit has already drawn fire from Virginia Democrats, who have criticized him for associating with LePage, but it's also raising questions about the former governor's plan for a so-called parents' bill of rights.

Youngkin's victory last year tested the GOP blueprint of tapping angst over pandemic school closures and public education curricula, and it's prompted a wave of proposals that ostensibly reassert parents' ability to view and shape student learning, but that also have led to crackdowns on the teachings of race and LGBTQ issues.

LePage's campaign has not provided any details of his proposed parent bill of rights, but Maine Democratic Party chairman Drew Gattine said Tuesday that Youngkin's visit suggests there will be attacks on public education.

"The playbook in Virginia was a lot about attacking teachers and the education system," he said. "We don't need that in Maine and it's unfortunate to see that (LePage) would be bringing Gov. Youngkin up to campaign with him this week."

LePage's campaign website frames his parents' rights proposal as wresting students' futures from the hands of "educational bureaucrats."

Democrats have described the proposals as attacks on public education, and they've highlighted Democratic Gov. Janet Mills' commitment to state education funding, covering 55% of local costs for the first time since voters approved the threshold in 2004.

Youngkin's fundraiser for LePage will begin at 6 p.m. and is closed to the press.