In a weekly radio appearance, Gov. Paul LePage left the door open to resigning as he again apologized to Mainers for his obscenity laden voicemail to a Democratic state lawmaker.
Later in the day, the messaging from the governor’s office had changed somewhat, and Democrats say LePage just doesn’t seem to understand how his rhetoric comes across as racist.
Speaking on WVOM, LePage again apologized, saying he was wrong to lose his temper in that now-infamous voicemail to Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook. He says his family has borne the brunt of angry and pornographic emails following his outburst, and that after meeting with Republican leaders he is considering all options including leaving office.
“I have never met a person who is has been perfect and not made a mistake and, ah, hopefully the people of Maine will say, 'OK we’ll forgive you this time and clean up your act and let's move forward,'” LePage said on WVOM.
But whether they do is very much up in the air as Democrats continue to call for his resignation. They say the governor continues to portray drug dealers as nearly all black and Hispanic, who come in from out of state, while federal statistics show that most drug arrests in Maine involve white suspects. House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan says the underlying issue —LePage’s continued use of racially charged language — needs to be addressed.
“He continued to make the same comments that Rep. Gattine raised concern with, that members of the faith community raised concerns,” says McCabe. “That my fellow elected officials on both sides of the aisle raised concerns with. He continued to make those comment again this morning.”
In his appearance on WVOM, LePage tried to clarify his position, saying that he drew his conclusion that more than 90% of drug arrests in the state are by blacks and Hispanics from newspaper reports of arrests he has been keeping since January.
“I was talking about the trafficking and if legislators think it something different, than they should have been attending because I think it is pretty clear that I have been talking about traffickers,” said LePage in the WVOM interview. “And I will tell you another thing, it’s very clear that I say out of state because we have a minority population in Maine and they are not involved.”
But LePage is also getting a clear message from Republican leaders that he needs to take some sort of action to make sure he keeps his temper in the future, and watches his language. Senate President Mike Thibodeau, a Republican from Winterport, was one of the GOP lawmakers who met with LePage at the Blaine House.
“We were pretty clear in our disappointment and our expectations for some changes, and again he is going to talk to some folks that he trusts, that he knows, and reach out to some folks and talk with his family and then we will have another conversation,” Thibodeau says.
Later this evening House Republicans are expected meet in Augusta to discuss what their position will be with respect to LePage and his future. It’s a closed meeting, and it's clear that the caucus members have not yet decided how they should weigh in on the controversy.
And at about the same time that those Republicans are meeting at the Governor Hill mansion, Democrats will be holding a rally in Capitol Park across from the State House to denounce LePage’s rhetoric and to call for his resignation.